The Spencer Museum of Art, situated at the foot of Campanile Hill west of the Kansas Union, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, but its roots stretch back for decades.
It has grown from a 7,500-piece collection donated in 1917 by Kansas City art collector Sallie Casey Thayer to an accumulation of more than 20,000 works that span the history of European, North American and East Asian art. But space is quickly getting tight. The museum hopes to expand in the near future with help from KU First, the third and largest comprehensive fund-raising campaign in KU history.
For now, seven galleries display selections from the permanent collection; special exhibitions from the collection or touring shows from other museums are displayed in four additional galleries.
Although its main focus is the education and enrichment of KU students, the museum also tries to touch a broad audience from throughout the community with its permanent collection, featured traveling exhibitions and educational programs and tours.
The first special exhibition of the fall semester is "The Orchid Pavilion Gathering: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the University of Michigan Museum of Art." It opened Saturday and continues through Oct. 26. The show features 60 works from the 12th to the 20th centuries and includes rare pieces from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The exhibit takes its name from one of the Michigan museum's finest pieces, a handscroll by Sheng Mao-yeh titled "The Orchid Pavilion Gathering," which depicts a legendary meeting of scholars during the Jin dynasty (317-419).
Here's a look at some other upcoming exhibitions at the Spencer:
- "Contemporary American Indian Art: The Spencer Collects," Sept. 13-Oct. 12, organized in conjunction with the 15th Annual Lawrence Indian Art Show, Sept. 12-Oct. 11.
- "19th- and 20th-Century Photography," fall 2003, a selection from the collection, in support of classes in the history of photography.
- "Teaching from Prints: The Legacy of John Talleur," fall 2003, from the Spencer collection.
- "American Etchers Abroad, 1880-1939," fall 2003, from the Spencer collection.
- "The Art of Gold," Nov. 10-Jan. 4, a celebration of the inventiveness of contemporary goldsmiths and the beauty of traditional materials and processes, organized by Exhibits USA.