With a diverse collection of more than 48,000 art objects and works of cultural significance, the Spencer is the only comprehensive art museum in the state of Kansas and serves more than 50,000 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.
The Spencer Museum of Art aspires to be a dynamic portal for learning over time, offering new lenses and stories that emerge from our many communities. Moments, years, lifetimes, and generations define the art and the people who bring meaning to and derive joy from our work, beginning with our founding in 1928 and extending far into the future. The term “life-long learning” has been a popular phrase in education for decades and still plays an important role for academic art museums. However, extending beyond the personal, it indicates other lives, different histories, unknown futures, and communities of care we touch. We must be an inspiring place for lifetimes of learners, far beyond our own.
Some of the manifestations of that ambition, from our new Lee Study Center—the spectacular gift from Ingrid Lee that reaches deep into the heart of our collections and provides a place for sharing them—to exhibitions and programs that include the experiences of all. We must give space and attention to the perceptions and experiences of others. The statewide Partners in Education Across Kansas program connects teachers from different districts in our state serving K–12 students with arts professionals and with one another. Simultaneously, we are hosting more elementary school field trips to the Museum. Observing the longevity of our Senior Sessions program and the ever-growing number of students involved in the Museum, it is clear that people of all ages and backgrounds seek connection and a sense of self in our community.
You will encounter discontent, joy, love, and grief in our reinstalled galleries. I invite you to settle in for a lifetime of rediscovering how to learn and experience, on your own terms in your own time.
—Saralyn Reece Hardy
This four-year plan outlines the Museum's guiding principles and goals.