With a diverse collection of more than 45,000 art objects and works of cultural significance, the Spencer is the only comprehensive art museum in the state of Kansas and serves more than 100,000 visitors annually.
The Museum’s vision is to present its collection as a living archive that motivates object-centered research and teaching, creative work, and transformative public dialogue. The Spencer facilitates arts engagement and research through exhibitions, artist commissions and residencies, conferences, film screenings, musical and dramatic performances, artist- and scholar-led lectures, children’s art activities, and community arts and culture festivals.
The Spencer Museum of Art sustains a culturally diverse collection and encourages interdisciplinary exploration at the intersection of art, ideas, and experience. The Spencer strengthens, supports, and contributes to the academic research and teaching of The University of Kansas and is committed to serving communities of learners across Kansas and beyond.
In light of extraordinary global circumstances, Spencer Museum staff are using variety of technologies to deliver art experiences to our audiences beyond our walls. We continue to reimagine Museum processes in order to respond quickly to creative ideas and relevant social questions. Since March 2020, we have supplemented our physical space with expanded digital offerings, from virtual exhibitions hosted on our website to collaborative international events hosted on YouTube. These new ways of working yield a refreshing pattern of connection and learning, shifting the idea of the Museum from a destination to an educational force that is enriched by, but not limited to, its physical space.
As the global landscape shifts, the Museum continues its ongoing work behind the scenes: research into artists, objects, and ideas. We approach research as an exploratory process of looking deeply at the world and at the ways we generate knowledge. Art can offer distinctive roles to research communities, such as presenting a question framed with assurance but without finality. At the Spencer Museum, these questions have been coined “inquiries” through our Integrated Arts Research Initiative. A relevant question elicits pause, adaptation, deeper insights, and most of all, stimulates desire for learning.
At the Spencer and beyond, we are all questioning how to shape our learning and our private and public lives to meet the world as it changes. As we calibrate safety and our need for connection, art can provide a reliable and inspirational guide to a more just, curious, and caring society. Whether in a gallery or on a screen, art can bring its power to this moment with compassion, clarity, and a renewed sense of purpose.
—Saralyn Reece Hardy
This four-year plan outlines the Museum's guiding principles and goals.