Phase I Renovation

The museum is no longer just a place to come and view. There is now I think a new urgency.


The museum is no longer just a place to come and view. There is now I think a new urgency in higher education and in the world for art and artists to respond to the needs of our day. And there was a pivotal moment when it seemed that our building needed to reflect that ethos. We have been involved in the past five years of transforming the campus. There have been many renovations and new buildings and this is a very important part of that. I really wanted to be involved with Phase I and I realized opportunity to opening the museum up to make it more inviting the chance to kind of bring it into the 21st century was pretty important. At that moment we began to think about three things. We wanted to create a more inviting entrance for visitors and to also have a sense that we were part of the university campus. Saralyn said “we want to bring people and art together” and how do you make the museum more inviting? And one of the first ideas we had was to introduce daylight from the east and the west. So the idea was that light illuminates a space and also its dynamic and its ever-changing. So to have the opportunity to walk through our spaces and look over at a work of art that is inspiring and look out the window at the changing seasons I think will provide a spectacular sensation of being alive in the world. We also wanted to make it a more functional space for classes and teaching. I think that the new study center and the teaching gallery are at the core of the way that the art museum can enhance teaching and learning at the University. We can comb the depths of the 40,000-plus objects in the collection think about what would work best for you and then put them out in the study center your class can come in and look at them. So that will all be much more public in the sense that people will be able to see what’s going on in there. So increased visibility of the kinds of things that were proud of that happen in the museum. And then finally we wanted this sense of freedom that people could circulate through the building that there would be a sense that you could linger. Having the new open stair and the elevator is probably the most critical thing that we could have done. The museum needed it to be able to make that connection from the first floor of the museum to the second floor. Also the idea of having lookouts on to the central court so that you you would not get disoriented. You would always be able to look down and see where you are and look out as well. The museum is especially positioned at this particular moment. We’re poised, we’re ready to step through a portal a threshold of becoming something quite different. I think people will be really surprised at the change and what it looks like and how modern is going to look and it will just bring a new level of excitement to the community and to the art world. We hope the new renovation will transform the museum. Not only functionally also experientially. So when you go through the museum it feels like the space has a lot more light. We are very fortunate at the University of Kansas to have the Spencer Museum. It’s the only comprehensive museum of art in the state of Kansas. And so it’s just a wonderful asset to us and one that I hope the community appreciates is very special. So if there were one overall feeling it would be that this is your beautiful space. This is your beautiful space to come, it’s a public space it’s not only a space to look at the works of art but to look inward and to look around the world.

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