Editorial: Spencer praise

The newly renovated Spencer Museum of Art is a credit to KU and the whole Lawrence community.

The recently completed $8 million renovation of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas is a boost for the university and the community of Lawrence.

Last week, university employees and museum partners got a preview of the museum, which has been closed for the renovations for the past year and a half. The museum officially reopens to the public on Oct. 15.

Museum Director Saralyn Reece Hardy said the renovations, the first major renovations since the museum was built nearly 40 years ago, make the Spencer a better and more welcoming environment for the university and the community to come together and explore art. “We were in this beautiful place on campus and wanted to highlight the beauty of the works of art but also revel in the beauty of the outside,” she said.

The renovation included adding large windows offering views of Marvin Grove and the World War II Memorial Campanile. The museum’s facade has all-glass entry doors and a large gallery window overlooking Mississippi Street and the Kansas Union. The museum’s revamped teaching gallery and print room are bigger and brighter.

The Goddard Study Center has been expanded. It can be reserved by KU classes or community groups to view and discuss art, and it’s open to walk-ins on Fridays.

Other new features include a central open staircase and elevator to the galleries upstairs, added balcony views from upper-level galleries into the Central Court below, a “sprung floor” that provides shock absorption to make it better for dance performances, an audio-looping system in the Central Court for visitors with reduced hearing and charging stations in the entryway, with counter space and stools for students or visitors to sit and work.

Private money funded the project — more than 180 individuals and foundations contributed to the $8 million, 30,000-square-foot renovation.

The grand reopening of the museum is at 10 a.m. Oct. 15. Events are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 15 and from noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 16 at the museum, 1301 Mississippi St. Here’s hoping the community turns out to see the museum’s new look. It’s a renovation worth celebrating.