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Spencer’s Grand Reopening Reconnects the Lawrence Community with Art

On Oct.15, Spencer Museum of Art re-opened to the public after 18 months of renovation with a series of activities for KU students and Lawrence community to engage in.

The grand reopening day started at 10 am all the way through to 7 pm, ending with the concert “Resonant Vessels” by the KU Choirs. The director of the museum Saralyn Reece Hardy said they put together the grand reopening with various activities because the museum has missed the people.

“It’s a meeting plimg_1854ace for the community and the university,” Hardy said. “It’s a meeting place for art across the globe. We missed our friends. We missed all the people and the energy that people bring in to a space… This is really a dream come true.”

Beginning with the African Drum Ensemble, Saralyn said it in some way symbolized the wish for the museum to reverberate. The museum invited many artists to the reopening to put on face painting, kite making, material painting and drawing exchange which attracted many families and little children.

On campus, Saralyn said they also want KU students to see the museum as a place they can go to.

“What we want is the KU students to feel like this is their place…” Hardy said. “We really want this to feel like home, like a place for the mind and for the imagination.”
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The Brodys came back to the museum with their two little girls after a long wait due to the renovation, and Simon Brody said the museum is a place to cultivate their daughters’ interests in art, who have both been in the art school.

“We came here a while ago for the art cart, and she was probably two years old, and it was kind of lost on her,” Simon said. “It’s really good timing for us that this is available because she’s always been wanting to do art projects.”

Like the Brodys, Saras Wati brought her daughter here to appreciate the art and learn about the past in a visual way.

“The museum has a lot of historical knowledge, and I want my kids to know history,” Wati said. “There are other events… like drawing and painting, so it’s a great time to know history as well as to have a good afternoon here.”

Doug Bergston, who works at the museum, said he came from big cities like New York with large amount of fine art and accidentally ended up in Kansas. He said visiting the museum made him feel like he can settle in Kansas because of the depth of the collection at the Spencer.

“It really grounded me here,” Bergston said, “like ‘Ok, I’m going to be ok here, it at least has the right kind of civilization. It’s got these kind of work here.’ I feel much more at home.”

Specifically for the reopening, Bergston was working with material painting, which attracted many kids and their families to participate in. He said quilter Marla Jackson, an artist the museum works close with, cut many pieces of different fabrics with different colors for people to glue on a replica separated into big color fields with no color. The original art they chose is Landscape by Birger Sandzén.

img_1761Dance, a form of moving art, is also incorporated into the reopening. Students and faculty from the Department of Dance performed improvised modern dance. Dancer Sabrina Castillo said sometimes people can forget that there is more art than still paintings. Junior Kayla Wegley said she appreciates that the museum invited moving arts to be a part of the reopening.

“That’s such a big part of us as dancers, like how can we incorporate other forms of art into how we move, into how we use choreography,” Wegley said.

They are both glad that another art venue is open to the public and KU students.

“It’s really neat that they bring the community on to the campus,” Castillo said. “We have this amazing facility now that’s open to anybody. I think sometimes colleges can miss that aspect of it. It’s not just an academic learning place, it’s something that everybody can come to.”

If you want to learn more about the renovation, click here for a piece written by KJHK’s own Jordan Winter. 

Photo courtesy of The Spencer Museum.