Panel from ‘Native Hosts’ art installation at Spencer Museum of Art recovered by KU Police

photo by: Ryan Waggoner

The "Native Hosts" series by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds is KU's Common Work of Art, pictured on display outside the Spencer Museum of Art.

A panel that was reported stolen from the Native American art exhibit outside the Spencer Museum of Art on the University of Kansas campus has been recovered.

KU Police Deputy Chief James Druen said in an email to the Journal-World that the agency on Thursday recovered a panel that was reported missing on Wednesday from the installation. He said the agency was speaking to a “person of interest” in the case.

The museum confirmed that the stolen panel had been recovered in a post on social media.

“We are grateful for their quick action, and also for the outpouring of support from you all — not only for the artist and the artwork — but for our Native communities at KU and in Lawrence,” the museum said. “We will keep you updated as we continue to plan our next steps for reinstalling this work.”

The recovery of the panel is separate from the reported vandalism of the art installation that occurred earlier this month, Druen said.

As the Journal-World previously reported, KU police said that on Sept. 4 shortly after 11 p.m. two individuals damaged four pieces of artwork associated with the exhibit.

Elizabeth Kanost, a spokeswoman for the museum, said while the museum took down four of the five panels that were vandalized to be repaired and eventually reinstalled, the fifth panel was stolen. With the recovery of the fifth panel, Kanost said the museum is committed to reinstalling the artwork.

The exhibit was KU’s Common Work of Art, titled “Native Hosts,” by artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds.

“Native Hosts” consists of five aluminum signs in front of the Spencer Museum on Mississippi Street. The signs name Native tribes who historically or currently inhabit the region now called Kansas. On each sign, the colonial name is printed backward while the name of the land’s original occupants is printed forward.

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