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100 Ways to Love Your Spencer

To celebrate 100 years of our collection, we’re sharing 100 ways to interact with or give back to the Spencer Museum of Art.

Spencer Art 100


Highlights from our Founding Gift

Winslow Homer, West India Divers


Winslow Homer
West India Divers, 1899,
watercolor, scraping, chalk on paper,

China, Medicine Buddha


Medicine Buddha,
late 1500s–early 1600s,
bronze, gilding, pigment,

Portrait of a woman


Portrait of a woman,
circa 1850,

Kiowa peoples, cradleboard


Kiowa peoples,
late 1800s–1928,
wood, buckskin, cloth, metal, beading, incising,

Japan, Kyūden zushi (palace-style shrine)


Kyūden zushi (palace-style shrine),
late 1800s–early 1900s,
wood, lacquer, gold, paint,

Egypt, Coptic textile fragment


Coptic textile fragment,
date unknown,

Richard Emile Miller, La Toilette


Richard Emile Miller,
La Toilette,
circa 1910,
oil on canvas,

China, snuff bottle with stopper


snuff bottle with stopper,
Jiaquin period (1975–1820),
porcelain, relief carving,

Italy, presepio nativity scene


presepio nativity scene,
circa 1770,
wood, terracotta, paint, wire, string, cloth,

Korea, Guo Ziyi‘s Enjoyment-of-Life Banquet Screen


Guo Ziyi‘s Enjoyment-of-Life Banquet Screen,
early 1800s,
eight-panel screen, ink and color on silk,


Top: Children working with textiles. Below: Curator discussing object

  1. Walk-ins Welcome: Every Friday, visitors can request to view works of art in the Spencer’s Stephen H. Goddard Study Center, no appointments necessary.
  2. Gallery Talks: Spencer curators, international artists and scholars, and KU faculty and students regularly deliver talks in the Spencer’s galleries on a range of topics.
  3. Art Cart: The Art Cart is a drop-in activity station where children and grown-ups enjoy hands-on art projects together taking inspiration from original works of art.
  4. Slow Art Sundays: Slow Art Sundays focus on one great work of art for visitors to contemplate and converse about with Museum staff.
  5. Senior Sessions: Designed for senior citizens, these informal gallery talks explore specific topics or questions and are led by Museum staff, KU faculty, and community members.
  6. Guided Tours: The Museum’s staff and docents lead gallery tours for K–12 and University classes from across Kansas and Missouri and other groups from all over.
  7. Film Screenings: The Spencer regularly offers free film screenings in the Museum’s auditorium or at partner venues.
  8. Backyard Bash: Each fall, the Spencer provides an afternoon of educational and entertaining art and science experiences in Marvin Grove, the park-like space behind the Museum.
  9. Career Close-Ups: Each year, the Spencer gathers regional museum professionals to speak about their diverse career paths and encourage students from all fields of study to pursue museum careers.
  10. Student Juried Art Show: Every spring, the Spencer Student Advisory Board organizes a juried exhibition of works by KU students around a central theme.


Education & Interpretation

Top: Spencer staff working in elementary school. Below: University class discussing object

  1. KU Common Work of ArtEach year, the Spencer Museum selects a Common Work of Art in conjunction with the KU Common Book program; together, these initiatives stimulate shared learning experiences for first-year KU students.
  2. Classroom Collection: Featuring more than 300 works of art, the Classroom Collection circulates to K–12 and university classes to enrich instruction.
  3. Collection Cards: These collectible trading cards feature works of art from the Spencer Museum’s collection and are used in educational programs at the Museum and beyond.
  4. Educator Workshops: The Spencer regularly offers instructional workshops for regional K–12 teachers and recently expanded the program to reach teachers from across the United States during summer 2017.
  5. 3rd-grade Program: Each school-year, all 3rd-grade students in USD 497 participate in “Art Museum Stories,” which introduces them to museums and talking about art.
  6. 4th-grade Program: Through two classroom presentations and a guided tour of the Spencer Museum, all 4th-grade students in USD 497 learn about art of Kansas and the region.
  7. 5th-grade Program: 5th-grade students learn about intersections of STEM fields and art in a detective-themed program that takes place in local classrooms and the Museum’s galleries.
  8. Hidden in the Details: This self-guided gallery tour encourages visitors to find works of art using visual and written clues.
  9. Bulldog Art Tours: With guidance from Spencer educators, 8th-grade students at Southwest Middle School in Lawrence create short audio descriptions of works of art in the Spencer’s collection every year.
  10. Spencer Student Advisory BoardThis group collaborates with Museum staff to plan initiatives and events that engage university students.

Spencer At Large

Top: Family at Spencer At Large event. Below: Artist Dave Loewenstein in front of Pollinators mural

  1. Pollinators Mural: The Museum recently commissioned artist Dave Loewenstein to reimagine the community Pollinators mural in downtown Lawrence.
  2. Rocket Grants: The Spencer Museum partners with Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City on Rocket Grants, a program supporting innovative, artist-driven projects outside of established arts venues with funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
  3. Campus Sculptures: Many diverse sculptures on the University of Kansas Lawrence campus are part of the Spencer Museum’s permanent collection.
  4. Wall Drawing 519: Part of the Museum’s permanent collection, the large-scale Wall Drawing 519 by Sol LeWitt is prominently installed at the KU School of Business in Capitol Federal Hall.
  5. Collection Loans: The Spencer Museum regularly loans works from its collection to other institutions across the United States and around the world for special exhibitions.
  6. Lawrence Public Library: We frequently offer hands-on art activities at the Lawrence Public Library, connecting visual art our collection with the fabulous programming the Library does.
  7. Watkins Community Museum: The Watkins Museum stewards a selection of objects in our collection from Mexico and displays them annually for Día de los Muertos.
  8. Newsletter: We distribute news about our collection, exhibitions, programming and more through our bi-annual newsletter, which is mailed to all donors and available digitally on our website.
  9. Director’s Circle Events: Members of our Director’s Circle explore regional arts and culture locations at special events, including visits to artist studios, museums and galleries, architecture firms, and more.
  10. Art Across KU: Our Director Saralyn Reece Hardy represents the Museum on multiple interdisciplinary committees that select artwork featured in KU buildings across Kansas.

Collection Highlights

Carrie A. Hall, Single Sunflower quilt block


Carrie A. Hall,
Single Sunflower quilt block,
circa 1930,

Joseph Ducreux, Le Discret


Joseph Ducreux,
Le Discret,
circa 1791,
oil on aluminum panel (transferred from canvas),

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, La Pia de’ Tolomei


Dante Gabriel Rossetti,
La Pia de’ Tolomei,
oil on canvas,

Thomas Hart Benton, Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley


Thomas Hart Benton,
Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley,
oil on canvas,

Diane Arbus, Exasperated boy with a toy hand grenade


Albrecht Dürer,
Knight, Death, and the Devil,

Diane Arbus, Exasperated boy with a toy hand grenade, N.Y.C.


Diane Arbus,
Exasperated boy with a toy hand grenade, N.Y.C.,
gelatin silver print,

Georgia O’Keeffe, Portrait of a Day – First Day


Georgia O’Keeffe,
Portrait of a Day – First Day,
oil on canvas,

Roger Shimomura, Kabuki Party


Roger Shimomura,
Kabuki Party,
color screen print,

Kotyit (Cochiti) peoples, Standing human figure


Kotyit (Cochiti) peoples,
Standing human figure,
circa 1880,
ceramic, paint,

Konoike Tomoko, Donning Animal Skins and Braided Grass


Konoike Tomoko,
Donning Animal Skins and Braided Grass,
mirror, wood, Styrofoam, aluminum,


Top: Student studying print in the Print Room. Below: Artist on cherry picker working on wall

  1. Stephen H. Goddard Study Center: The Study Center offers an up-close environment for students, researchers, and community members to examine works of art in the collection with guidance from Museum staff.
  2. Artists-in-Residence: The Museum hosts a diverse range of local, national, and international artists who create innovative work that broadens the scope of the Museum's collection and engages the University and community.
  3. Integrated Arts Research Initiative Fellows: Semester- and year-long research fellowships through IARI allow KU students and faculty to engage in deeper collaborations with the Museum.
  4. Integrated Arts Research Initiative Artists & Scholars: IARI hosts visiting artists and scholars to further interdisciplinary conversations begun by the Museum and KU students and faculty.
  5. Graduate Internship Program: Graduate interns at the Museum work closely with staff to conduct research, organize events and programs, and pursue their personal interests in the museum field.
  6. The Commons: The Spencer is one of three partners—including KU’s Biodiversity Institute and the Hall Center for the Humanities—that form The Commons; a physical and intellectual space for people to gather and explore ideas for the common good.
  7. Register: Original research by staff and outside scholars is published in the Museum’s peer-reviewed journal, the Register.
  8. Exhibition Catalogues: Curatorial and artistic research behind exhibitions is often documented in original Museum publications.
  9. Conferences: The Museum frequently hosts international conferences and symposiums related to exhibitions and art research.
  10. Museum Archives: Archives include documents, photographs, audio-visual material, publications, media coverage, and correspondence documenting the history of the Museum in all its iterations since the 1917 founding gift.

Ways to Give

Top: Front Entrance to the Spencer Museum of Art. Below: Chancellor and Spencer Art Director at Spencer Museum of Art

  1. Participate in 100 for 100Help us celebrate our collection’s centennial with a contribution to support the next 100 years of art at KU.
  2. Join the Friends of the Art Museum: Become a member to support, enhance, and connect with our programs and exhibitions.
  3. Join the Director’s Circle: Donors who contribute $1,000 or more annually are part of this distinct leadership group for the Museum.
  4. VolunteerDonate your time as an ambassador at our Welcome Desk or help with public programs.
  5. Become a DocentDocents enhance art experiences at the Spencer Museum for tour groups of all ages.
  6. Donate ArtworkBeginning with the founding gift of Sallie Casey Thayer in 1917, the Spencer Museum has relied on strategic and influential gifts to expand the collection in meaningful ways.
  7. Sponsor a Program or Exhibition: Sponsorship opportunities are available for special exhibitions, artist commissions, public programs, and publications.
  8. Visit UsExplore our galleries and attend our events!
  9. Tell Your Friends: Brings your friends with you when you visit, invite them to events, or share our social media posts.
  10. Tell Us What You Think: Give us your feedback! We are always adapting to meet the needs of our audiences.


Interactive Gallery iBooks throughout the Spencer

  1. Website: Our website offers information on our collection, exhibitions, events, history and more!
  2. Collection Database: You can search all 45,000+ objects in our collection online through an online database.
  3. Spencer Museum App: Available for free download on iOS and Android, our app provides expanded access to the Museum’s collection through images, videos, and text.
  4. Audio Looping: Audio looping is available for all public programs in the Museum to enhance the experience of visitors with hearing impairments.
  5. Social Media: Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. #SpencerArt100
  6. E-News: Subscribe to our e-news to learn about the latest Museum updates and events.
  7. Gallery iBooks: iPads throughout our permanent collection galleries offer additional interpretive materials.
  8. Zoom In Videos: This video series features interviews with aging artists in our collection.
  9. Data Visualization: We are developing applications that use our collection database to visually display the diversity of our collection across time and space. (Experience this technology at work in our upcoming centennial exhibition!).
  10. Central Court Skylights: New faux skylights in our renovated Sam & Connie Perkins Central Court can reproduce any variation of natural light, allowing for enhanced exhibition possibilities.

Museum Shop

Spencer Art Gift Shop

  1. Postcards & Pencils: Take a free postcard and pencil to write a friend a note featuring a work form our collection.
  2. Buttons & Stickers: Decorate your notebook, water bottle, bag, or jacket with free Spencer branded buttons and stickers.
  3. T-shirts: Wear your Spencer pride with a t-shirt featuring objects from our collection.
  4. Water Bottles: Stay hydrated in style with our Camelbak branded water bottles.
  5. Mugs: Enjoy a warm beverage in one of our striking coffee mugs.
  6. Earbuds: Use our Spencer earbuds to listen to extra content on our app with your phone or tablet. (Pro tip: If you check out an iPad from the Welcome Desk, earbuds are complimentary).
  7. Notebooks: Jot down your creative ideas and sketches in our travel-size notebooks.
  8. Publications: Dive deeper into our exhibitions and art research with Spencer Museum catalogues and books.
  9. Centennial Collectibles: Be one of the few to collect a unique pendant or ceramic ornament commemorating our collection’s centennial.
  10. Brochures: Learn about our exhibitions, upcoming events, and programs with free brochures and flyers.


Sallie and Bowl

  1. Civic Leader and Art Collector: Sallie Casey Thayer and an Art Museum for KU: This exhibition celebrates the centennial of our collection and examines the history of its founder, Sallie Casey Thayer.
  2. Race, Gender, and the “Decorative” in 20th Century African Art: Opening November 11, this exhibition explores institutional frameworks for African art in U.S. museums throughout the 20th century.
  3. Power Clashing: Clothing, Collage, and Contemporary Identities: Opening November 18, Power Clashing delves into the material and symbolic language of clothing in a variety of mediums and cultures from the 1960s to the present.
  4. This Land: The artwork that appears in This Land demonstrates the power of national icons and the resonance of local and regional places that nurture popular notions of home sweet home.
  5. Forms of Thought: Forms of Thought investigates the realm of intangible ideas made manifest by artists throughout time and across cultures.
  6. The Object Speaks: This permanent collection installation recognizes the power of functional and artistic objects to carry important cultural ideas from one generation to the next.
  7. 20/21: Experience artwork from the 20th and 21st centuries hung salon style in this permanent collection gallery.
  8. Empire of Things: Empire of Things explores the relationships among objects, the people who make them, and the people who collect and display them.
  9. Cabinet of Curiosities: This special installation within Empire of Things groups objects of all materials and origins together in a wondrous display.
  10. Learning Center: Collection objects related to KU faculty teaching and research appear on view in our Jack & Lavon Brosseau Center for Learning.