Renovations to make Spencer art museum ‘more inviting’

This rendering shows the expanded lobby and glass-encased entry in the first phase of the Spencer Museum of Art renovations. Image courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

In this architectural rendering, floor-to-ceiling windows in the first phase of renovation at the Spencer Museum of Art would west toward Marvin Grove. Image courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

When the dust clears, the Spencer Museum of Art will be a lighter, brighter, bigger place to view art, as well as the natural beauty of Marvin Grove located just outside the building.

In the meantime, construction on the expansion project — scheduled to begin in late fall — will mean fewer-than-usual rotating exhibitions for the 2014-15 school year and some parts of the museum being blocked off in the spring.

The museum unveiled designs in May for the multi-phase project, for which brainstorming and fundraising began four years ago.

“The design of this Phase I renovation centers around our mission to advance teaching, learning and research at the university, and expands the Spencer as an inspiring platform for dialogue between KU and the community,” museum director Saralyn Reece Hardy said. “Our state-of-the-art facilities will affirm the Spencer Museum’s position as a premier university art museum, and elevate our capacity to expand imaginations and foster creative work.”

The $5 million first phase of the renovation will nearly triple the lobby and visitor area, adding a glass vestibule and expanding the museum’s entryway and visitor’s area, according to plans previously reported in the Journal-World.

Other changes would expand and renovate the museum’s storage and study space, add a new teaching gallery and connect the central areas of the third and fourth floor with a staircase and elevator.

Creating floor-to-ceiling windows on the museum’s western wall would add a view of Marvin Grove.

KU Endowment raised $3.8 million for the project in just over a year, KU Endowment president Dale Seuferling said. He said the sum came from two to three major donors plus a number of participants at other gift levels, and fundraising continues.

The Spencer fundraising effort is part of KU Endowment’s Far Above campaign.

“It’s one of the projects that enhances the role that the museum plays in the academic community but also will be a great community resource, with the new gallery space and renovations that will make it a more inviting museum,” Seuferling said.

Project architect is New York-based Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.