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SummerArts: College Art Museums

Spencer Museum of Art, U of Kansas (Lawrence, KS)

1301 Mississippi Street
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The Spencer Museum of Art, on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, houses a collection currently numbering nearly 36,000 artworks and artifacts in all media. Spanning the history of European and American Art from ancient to contemporary, the collection also includes broad and significant holdings of East Asian Art.

The Spencer had its embryonic beginning in the University of Kansas Museum of Art, which was established in 1928 after Kansas City art collector Sallie Casey Thayer offered her collection of nearly 7,500 art objects to the University of Kansas to establish a museum “to encourage the study of fine arts in the Middle West.” By the late 1960s, the museum had grown enough to warrant the construction of a new building; a sizeable donation from Kansas City collector Helen Foresman Spencer led to both a new building, in 1978, and a new name for the museum. The transfer of approximately 9,500 ethnographic collection objects from the former University of Kansas Museum of Anthropology in 2007 led to the Spencer’s current emphasis on American Indian materials

With an extensive programming schedule that features events for children, youth and special events like concerts, artist’s talks, lectures, and workshops, the Spencer Museum of Art offers a broad spectrum of opportunities for the public to interact with the facility and its collection. (KCE)

Spencer Museum of Art, U of Kansas Information

  • Public Transportation: Good (a short walk from Lawrence Transit bus 36 at the Spencer Museum of Art stop; bus 42 at the Memorial Stadium stop; and buses 10, 11, 30, 32, 38, and 43 at the Kansas Union stop)
  • Handicapped Accessibility: Good
  • Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sunday Noon–4 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays
  • Admission: Free
  • Tour: Several free tour options are available. The Museum Highlights Tour introduces visitors to a general history of the Spencer Museum of Art and to highlights of the collection. The Special Exhibition Tour offers visitors the opportunity to learn in depth about a temporary exhibition on view at the museum. The Detective’s Eye Tour introduces visitors to art conservation by looking carefully at artworks in order to discover their hidden secrets and interesting histories. The Art of Kansas and the Region Tour focuses on Kansas and regional artists with emphasis on their academic and artistic backgrounds
  • Membership: Friend (Adult $50–$199; Student $15+; Seniors $35+); Donor ($200–$499); Patron ($500–$999); Benefactor ($1,000–$2,499); Spencer Fellow ($2,500–$4,999); and Spencer Cornerstone ($5,000+). All members receive a subscription to SMA’s quarterly newsletter and E-News; invitations to Friends-only exhibition previews and special events; a 10% discount in the Museum Shop; and voting privileges for annual art acquisitions from Friends funds
  • Other Benefits: Donor level members ($200–$499) receive a complimentary copy of the Spencer’s annual report, The Register; and art-related travel opportunities. At the Benefactor level ($1,000–$2,499) members also have free one-time use of the reception room.