Public Programs: Exhibitions: Implementation

Period of Performance

5/1/2021 - 4/30/2025

Funding Totals

$400,000.00 (approved)
$400,000.00 (awarded)

Revisioning the Spencer Museum of Art’s Collection Galleries

FAIN: GI-278338-21

University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc. (Lawrence, KS 66045-3101)
Saralyn Reece Hardy (Project Director: September 2020 to present)

Implementation of a thematic reinstallation of the permanent collection at the Spencer Museum of Art.

The revisioning of the Spencer Museum of Art's collection galleries will expand the diversity of cultures and identities represented in these exhibitions, center the experiences and comfort of visitors, and foster sustained inquiries into broad humanistic themes. The resulting exhibitions will be organized around four overlapping themes exploring ideas of intersections, empowerment, displacement, and illumination. These new thematic exhibitions will rebalance the collection galleries to showcase a breadth of mediums and foreground works of art by Black, Indigenous, and other artists of color and by women. An award from the National Endowment for the Humanities would provide critical support for continued community involvement in the realization of the project, as well as for casework, seating, production and installation, and evaluation of these fully reinstalled collection galleries across their first three years on view (2022-2025).

Associated Products

Design Thinking & Research Methods (Department of Design) (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Design Thinking & Research Methods (Department of Design)
Author: Cassandra Mesick Braun
Author: Hannah Park
Abstract: Hannah Park invited the Spencer team working on the reinstallation project to challenge her students with a ‘problem’ that the students could ideate solutions for via the design thinking process. SMA Curator Cassandra Mesick Braun worked with Park and her students to develop an engaging, game-based survey for visitors to assess the reinstalled collection galleries. This collaboration between Park and the Museum gave students the opportunity to have educational experiences grounded in real-world applications of humanistic research.
Year: 2021
Audience: Undergraduate

Phase II renovation and fourth-floor gallery reinstallation (Article)
Title: Phase II renovation and fourth-floor gallery reinstallation
Author: Elizabeth Kanost
Abstract: When our galleries close on May 16, the Museum will embark on exciting renovations and installation changes for our fourth-floor galleries that will increase our capacity for teaching, learning, and research.
Year: 2021
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: View: Spencer Museum of Art newsletter, Spring 2021
Access Model: open access
Format: Other
Publisher: Spencer Museum of Art

Debut Preview and Renovation Reveal (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Debut Preview and Renovation Reveal
Abstract: Enjoy X-ray vision for a night at this behind-the-scenes preview of the exhibition Debut and renovations currently underway inside the Museum. This twist on a gallery talk takes place outdoors with projections of art and what’s happening inside the galleries lighting up the exterior of the building. Spencer Museum interns take the mic to share their research on works soon-to-be-exhibited for the first time in Debut, and Deputy Director Celka Straughn brings you into the construction zone of the Lee Study Center and all-new collection galleries. No hard hat required!
Author: Sadie Arft
Author: Celka Straughn
Author: Adina Duke
Author: Ying Zhu
Author: Rachel Quist
Author: Sara Johnson
Date: 09/22/2021
Location: Spencer Museum of Art

Revisioning the Museum (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Revisioning the Museum
Abstract: Be the first to hear plans underway for four all-new exhibitions of the Museum’s collections and the addition of the new Lee Study Center. This major renovation and reinstallation project, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, strives to rebalance the collection galleries and reflect the Museum’s growing emphasis on social justice. Join us to learn how we are testing new collaborative strategies for exhibition development and meet our new Head of Exhibitions Trang Nguyen. Ask us the hard questions to inform new ways of displaying and interpreting museum collections. Your ideas and input are welcome and appreciated.
Author: Adina Duke
Date: 07/08/2021
Location: online (Zoom)

Hard Hats & Hardwoods (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Hard Hats & Hardwoods
Abstract: Prepare to be floored by the features of the Museum’s Phase II renovation. Friends of the Art Museum are invited into the construction zone for a tour with Director Saralyn Reece Hardy and other key project leaders. Be the first to wander the gleaming new white oak floors and learn what’s in store for four all-new collection galleries and the Lee Study Center.
Author: Ryan Waggoner
Author: Saralyn Reece Hardy
Author: Adina Duke
Author: Jennifer Talbott
Author: Celka Straughn
Date: 03/30/2022
Location: Spencer Museum of Art

Spencer renovation and reinstallation (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Spencer renovation and reinstallation
Abstract: Presentation of progress on the gallery renovation and reinstallation project to Lawrence civic leaders.
Author: Celka Straughn
Author: Jennifer Talbott
Date: 06/15/2022
Location: Maceli's Banquet Hall & Catering, Lawrence, KS

Graphtec CE7000-1300 Vinyl Cutter Plotter (Equipment)
Name: Graphtec CE7000-1300 Vinyl Cutter Plotter
Description: With permission from NEH, we purchased a Graphtec CE7000-1300 vinyl cutter plotter from US Cutter to produce signage for the reinstalled galleries. The Graphtec CE7000 Vinyl Plotter Series is equipped with features such as a registration mark sensor for print & cut jobs, perforation cutting ability and a guaranteed cut accuracy of over 15ft at an extremely competitive and cost effective price point.
Location: Vendor located in Tukwila, WA. Equipment resides at the Spencer Museum of Art.
Year: 2022

Collective Curating--Collaboration and Community (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Collective Curating--Collaboration and Community
Author: Joy Beckman
Author: Celka Straughn
Author: Michelle Sunset
Author: Beth Watkins
Abstract: Presenters will share four case studies from institutions across the country about working with collaborators outside of their staff to design exhibitions that share new voices and different perspectives. These projects are diverse in how community and collaboration shaped the resulting exhibitions--from working with contemporary artists to campus partners, students, and community members--but are united by their mission to shift curatorial practice to be more inclusive and accessible. Presenters will share planning, logistics, successes, and lessons learned. Presenters and participants alike should walk away with new ideas and insights for curating more collaboratively.
Date: 06/13/2023
Conference Name: Association of Academic Museums and Galleries annual conference

First-year Honors Seminar: Inside Museums (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: First-year Honors Seminar: Inside Museums
Author: Celka Straughn
Abstract: Museums are considered trusted cultural institutions. Why, and perhaps why not? This course will look beyond surface displays and into the “cracks” to examine some of the ways museums function and for what purposes. We will also explore some of the ways those inside, outside, and at the threshholds of museums can open up museums as civic spaces for building community. Sessions will include site visits to campus museums and other cultural organizations.
Year: 2022
Audience: Undergraduate

Museum Studies - The Nature of Museums (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Museum Studies - The Nature of Museums
Author: Celka Straughn
Abstract: The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the kinds of museums, their various missions, and their characteristics and potentials as research, education, and public service institutions responsible for collections of natural and cultural objects. (Same as HIST 720.) Prerequisite: Museum Studies student, Indigenous Nations Studies student, or consent of instructor.
Year: 2022
Audience: Graduate

Museum Studies - Introduction to Museum Public Education (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Museum Studies - Introduction to Museum Public Education
Author: Rachel Straughn-Navarro
Abstract: Consideration of the goals of an institution's public education services, developing programs, identifying potential audiences, developing audiences, and funding. Workshops and demonstrations are designed for students to gain practical experience working with various programs and developing model programs.
Year: 2022
Audience: Graduate

Empowerment (Exhibition)
Title: Empowerment
Curator: Susan Earle
Abstract: How do artists, artworks, and museums express power? Empowerment explores this question through a variety of mediums from across geographies and time periods. Themes include storytelling, human relationships with the earth, and artistic uses of form and figure. Displays will feature ceramics created by multiple generations of the Nampeyo family, a dedicated space for textiles, and installations that amplify the power of music. The music area will showcase the Betty Austin Hensley Flutes of the World collection and other musical instruments.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Empowerment | Spencer Museum of Art

Displacement (Exhibition)
Title: Displacement
Curator: Kate Meyer
Abstract: Museums hold collections of objects identified by researchers as important to keep, protect, and share. As Western art museums reckon with their colonialist pasts, the ways museums collect and display objects must be reexamined. This gallery’s theme of displacement extends across place and time, highlighting geographic dislocation, extinction, immigration, resource extraction, and objects moved from their original cultural contexts. Displacement invites visitors to consider acts of positioning, placement, and relocation as they relate to objects, peoples, and meanings. Displacement can harm. It has caused loss through forced migration, conquest, and plunder. People have also transformed such experiences to evoke new and emergent forms of agency, forging cultural acts of recovery, repair, and inspiration. Through an exploration of the social and migratory lives of objects, discover how a museum can be both a site of displacement and empowerment, where historical record meets lived experience.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Displacement | Spencer Museum of Art

Intersections (Exhibition)
Title: Intersections
Curator: Cassandra Mesick Braun
Abstract: An intersection is a place of possibility and potential where a traveler can choose which route to take. Like an intersection, a museum is a crossroads where people, ideas, and objects come together through many paths. This exhibition shares works of art from the Spencer Museum’s global collection that demonstrate how knowledge, understanding, and meaning have been co-created. Thematic groupings invite you to consider topics such as the connections between craft, community, and social ritual; artistic creativity and innovation; the movement of ideas, people, and objects; and the commodification and consumption of goods, natural resources, and human labor. Interpretive materials provide multiple points of access for audiences and invite them to chart their own paths through the galleries.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Intersections | Spencer Museum of Art

Illumination (Exhibition)
Title: Illumination
Curator: Kris Ercums
Abstract: What is light? A physicist may discuss light in terms of its physical properties, such as speed or wavelength, while a biologist may admire the essential role of light in the creation and perpetuation of life. Yet, the significance of light surpasses the physical world. Moral and philosophical implications have surrounded the concept of light since ancient times. Art has a long tradition of using both light and darkness as a subject and tool to elicit emotion and denote meaning. In this way, art acts like a beam of light cutting through space and time, revealing thoughts about the world, humanity, and ourselves. By contrasting artworks associated with light with others conjuring darkness, Illumination expands awareness about the hidden and obscured.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Illumination | Spencer Museum of Art

Art on the Move (Article)
Title: Art on the Move
Author: Elizabeth Kanost
Abstract: You might imagine that reinstalling an entire floor of collection galleries requires moving a lot of art. What you might not realize is just how much art we needed to move for our Phase II renovation and reinstallation that won't necessarily be displayed in our new exhibitions. For the past year and a half, our collections and exhibitions teams have been hard at work moving art for this major undertaking.
Year: 2022
Access Model: subscription only
Format: Other
Periodical Title: View
Publisher: Spencer Museum of Art

Spencer Museum of Art: Renovation, Reinstallation, Reimagining (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Spencer Museum of Art: Renovation, Reinstallation, Reimagining
Abstract: KU’s Spencer Museum of Art is a local and regional treasure. Much of the museum has been closed for the past year for a major gallery renovation. The project also included the creation of a second study center for class visits, research, and temporary installations. In early November, both levels of exhibition space will be open to the public, with innovative reinstallations of works from the permanent collection. Susan Earle, curator of European and American art, will provide an overview of the changes and a preview of what to expect the next time you visit this leading academic art museum. She will respond to questions and comments.
Author: Susan Earle
Date: 10/13/2022
Location: Kansas Memorial Union (Lawrence, KS)

New Generations Society of Lawrence Tour (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: New Generations Society of Lawrence Tour
Abstract: Susan Earle of the Spencer Museum of Art gave NGSL a tour of the newly renovated and installed fourth floor. The renovations include beautiful new flooring and redesigned lighting. Much more art is on display, and several old favorites are back. The renovation is divided into four spaces called Intersections, Empowerment, Displacement and Illumination. Also included in the fourth floor renovation is a beautiful new large study center.
Author: Susan Earle
Date: 03/30/2023
Location: Spencer Museum of Art

A New Blueprint for Learning, Research, and Community (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: A New Blueprint for Learning, Research, and Community
Abstract: Join Director Saralyn Reece Hardy and Phase II project leaders for brunch in the galleries and revelations about the evolution of our architectural program and new exhibitions, as well as a preview of what's to come.
Author: Saralyn Reece Hardy
Date: 04/22/2023
Location: Spencer Museum of Art

Get to Know the Spencer Museum (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Get to Know the Spencer Museum
Abstract: Drop in for any part of this open house to learn about the Museum’s next steps for improving access, inclusion, and belonging based on community input and explore our new collection galleries through tours or self-guided activities. Fun for all ages and light refreshments provided.
Author: Sydney Pursel
Author: Elizabeth Kanost
Author: Rebecca Blocksome
Date: 05/11/2023
Location: Spencer Museum of Art

Zone Display Cases (Equipment)
Name: Zone Display Cases
Description: Modular display case system--13 freestanding units 32"w x 32"d x 84"h Glass door, side, and top panels Sheet metal steel frame
Location: Spencer Museum of Art
Year: 2023

stabaArte drawer cases (Equipment)
Name: stabaArte drawer cases
Description: 3 flat file cabinets, customized 1680mm x 885mm x 980 mm with three drawers, each equipped with plexiglass hoods 1530mm x 810mm x 140 mm
Location: Spencer Museum of Art
Year: 2023