Archive for Saturday, August 15, 1998


August 15, 1998


Kansas University's museums are a big attraction for both students and visitors. More than 300,000 people visit the museums each year, officials estimate.

Students who are new to Kansas University should take the time to learn about dinosaurs, classical sculpture, art history and other cultures.

But you don't have to go to the library, or museums in big cities. It's all on campus.

``We're always trying to remind students to take some time and visit the museums,'' said Tom Hutton, Kansas University's director of University Relations.

``We've got a real treasure chest here in Lawrence. We always encourage students to take advantage of some of the extras around here,'' he said.

KU museums include the Museum of Natural History, Museum of Anthropology, Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art and Wilcox Classical Museum.

Officials estimate that more than a quarter-million people visit the museums each year -- the majority of whom make a trip to the Natural History Museum.

``I think it's a variety of reasons,'' said Brad Kemp, assistant director for public affairs. ``We have exhibits about things that are pretty popular right now, like dinosaurs.''

Kemp estimated that about 200,000 people visit the museum each year, making it a top tourist attraction in the state.

Another 50,000 or so visits are made each to the art and anthropology museums.

``We get people from all states and several foreign countries,'' said Sally Hayden, public relations director for the art museum.

``It's a good size in that you can go around the whole collection and see it for an hour to several hours,'' she said. ``It covers the whole history of art. People are always surprised to find different things here.''

Maria Martin, public relations coordinator for the anthropology museum, said people visit that museum because they are interested in the past and other cultures.

``We provide an opportunity for people to appreciate our cultural diversity ... and the human life cycle,'' she said.

Here's an overview of each museum, including hours and history:

Natural History Museum

The mission of the KU Natural History Museum is to study the life of the planet for the benefit of the earth and its inhabitants.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m., Sundays; closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Open noon to 5 p.m. other federal holidays.

History: Dyche Hall was completed in 1903, with its north wing added in 1963. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

The building is named after Lewis Lindsay Dyche (1857-1915). The museum opened in 1903 and added a north wing sixty years later. The museum's first exhibit was L.L. Dyche's collection of stuffed animals, shown 10 years earlier at the Colombian Exposition. Today, the museum has more than 130 exhibits on four floors.

Museum of Anthropology

KU's newest museum, opened in 1984 in Spooner Hall, which was completed in 1894.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays; closed on some holidays, as posted.

Admission is free, although donations are welcome at the door; suggested amounts: $4 for adults; $2 for children.

During the Lawrence Indian Arts Show (six weeks during September and October) admission is $3 adults; $1 students; children under 5, free (proceeds to support the Lawrence Indian Arts Show).

The Anthropology Museum is about people, how they make their living, how they communicate and get along with each other, and what they believe. The museum's focus is worldwide. The goal is to acknowledge the variety of satisfactory solutions to problems of the human condition.

History: The collections of archaeological and ethnographic specimens began to accumulate around the turn of the century as a result of university collecting expeditions and alumni donations. In 1946, a Division of Anthropology was added to the Museum of Natural History, with responsibilities of caring for these collections, expanding their scope. especially through archaeological research in the midwestern United States, and providing academic support services to university units wanting to use the collections for research and teaching. Limited space was available for public exhibits.

By 1976, overcrowding resulted in a move from Natural History and creation of the Museum of Anthropology as a separate Division of the Research and Public Service Sec-

See Campus, page 11B

tor of the university. Following a stay in temporary quarters, the Museum of Anthropology was provided historic Spooner Hall as a permanent home in 1979.

Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art

The building also houses the Kress Foundation Department of Art History and the Murphy Library of Art and Architecture. All facilities are fully accessible to the handicapped.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursdays; and noon to 5 p.m., Sundays; closed Mondays and New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving; Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Admission is free; donations are welcome.

History: In 1917 Sallie Casey Thayer, a Kansas City art collector, offered her collection of nearly 7,500 art objects to KU to form a museum ``to encourage the study of fine arts in the Middle West.'' Her eclectic collection included paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, furniture, rugs, textiles, metalwork, ceramics, glass and other examples of decorative arts, primarily from Europe and Asia. Eventually, the University of Kansas Museum of Art was established in 1928, based on this collection. During the years the collection has grown substantially, thanks to the generosity of many benefactors and the expertise of many curators.

By the late 1960s, the museum had outgrown its quarters in Spooner Hall. Helen Foresman Spencer, another Kansas City collector and patron of the arts, made a gift of $4.6 million that funded construction of a new museum. The building housing the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, the Kress Foundation Department of Art History, and the Murphy Library of Art and Architecture opened in 1978.

The neo-classical structure, built from Indiana limestone, was designed by Kansas City architect Richard Jenks.

Wilcox Classical Museum

Hours: 8:15 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

History: On April 6, 1888, the Lawrence Daily Journal reported: ``The statuary for the Greek Department is being unpacked and set up.'' Such was the beginning of the Wilcox Classical Museum. The ``statuary'' was not in marble, but consisted of life-size plaster replicas of famous works of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture like the ones that were being assembled at other universities. In these institutions, as at KU, Greek and Latin were staples of the curriculum, and the goal of the collectors was to provide students and residents of the area with some idea of the sculptural masterpieces of the ancient world.

The Wilcox Collection grew through the years. More casts were added, as well as small-scale antiquities, such as coins, vases, sculpture and inscriptions. The collection was housed in old Fraser Hall in the quarters of the classics department, where students learned their Latin and Greek under the watchful eyes of Homer and Virgil.

In the early 1960s, with the demolition of Old Fraser, the dollection went into a long period of storage and was only returned to display in October 1988, in 103 Lippincott (Old Green) Hall, where two rooms hold both casts and antiquities in a setting designed to recall that of Old Fraser. Small classics classes are held in one room of the museum amid the antiquities, and classes from many other departments use the museum as a teaching resource.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is

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