Art objects provoke questions. They stimulate lively discussion and profound discourse, both in and beyond the galleries. They invite reflection and reconsideration. They generate complex sets of ideas. They inspire.
With an internationally known collection that is deep and diverse, the Spencer Museum of Art’s holdings currently number more than 38,000 artworks and artifacts in all media. These extensive resources make the SMA uniquely positioned to encourage interdisciplinary exploration at the intersection of art, ideas, and experience. Our mission is to strengthen, support, and contribute to the academic research and teaching of the University of Kansas, and to serve communities of learners across Kansas and beyond.
In 2009, with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and numerous private donors, the SMA established the Andrew W. Mellon Department of Academic Programs. This new department builds on the Spencer Museum’s longstanding outreach to varied academic units with the aim of integrating SMA collections, exhibitions, facilities, and artistic projects into the crossdisciplinary intellectual life at KU.
The Spencer Museum of Art offers many opportunities for different levels of engagement, ranging from a one-time class visit to ongoing collaborative research or course development.
In concert with KU’s selection of The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan as its Common Book for the 2013-14 academic year, the Spencer has selected a series of objects that chronicle the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, its aftermath, and memory.
You can search our extensive holdings by keyword, artist, culture, geographic area, time period, and other identifiers.
To schedule a university class visit or student assignment, we ask that you complete the online form at least one week prior to the date of the requested visit. Visits can be led by the instructor individually or in conjunction with an SMA staff member.
The Print Room provides access to works of art on paper (prints, drawings, photographs, and artists’ books) and can accommodate a class of approximately 15 students. Kate Meyer, print room coordinator and curator, will discuss the goals for the visit with you and help identify works in the SMA collection to complement your curriculum. Contact Kate Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 785.864.0128.
The Teaching Gallery is a flexible, interactive, multipurpose space ideal for showing works to larger classes, for longer durations (2–4 weeks), or in conjunction with a conference. Either Celka Straughn, director of academic programs, or Kate Meyer, print curator, can assist with teaching gallery options.
The University in the Art Museum (UAM) is a dynamic, on-going program that demonstrates how original works of art may serve as a resource for teaching and scholarship in a range of disciplines by connecting KU faculty and graduate students to the Museum’s collection, its staff, and to one another. Sessions include presentations from instructors who have integrated the diverse collections into their own curricula, and who are eager to share their experience with other members of the KU community.
Teaching faculty and graduate teaching assistants frequently bring their classes to the Spencer. View excerpts from their feedback to learn about some of the ways in which they use the Museum and why they continue to come back.
The faculty members of the Mellon Academic Programs Advisory Board help guide and assess current activities and future directions for the Department and the Museum's overall integration into KU's rich academic life.
Any questions about arranging course visits or to learn more about the diverse opportunities to partner with the Spencer, please contact a member of the academic programs department.