Whether you’re an artsy person who understands the deep complexities of aesthetic interpretation or you’re simply interested in artwork for its beauty, the Wichita Art Museum has something for you. The museum brings people together with an appreciation for creativity while encouraging the development of ideas and imagination through the inspiration of art.
The Wichita Art Museum was founded in 1935, after Mrs. Louise Caldwell Murdock left instructions in her will that her money should be used to buy art for the city of Wichita. Between 1939-1962, Murdock’s friend Mrs. Elizabeth Stubblefield Navas picked out works of art for the museum. The collection now tops 8,000.
New York architect Clarence Stein designed the building. The community loved it, and it grew in popularity. In 1960, the Wichita Art Museum Members, Inc. was created. The non-profit member group provided a way for people to donate funds to keep the museum operating and growing. The additional funds paid for two wings, a lobby and a new façade, added onto the original building.
The building was expanded again in the 1970s and in 2003, bringing the building to 115,000 square feet. The new space brought with it more exhibition space, a restaurant, gift shop, research library and an art services area.
The permanent art collection at the Wichita Art Museum sits at about 8,000 pieces with an emphasis on authentic American art. The collection is named after Caldwell Murdock’s husband, Roland P. Murdock, and includes some rare works:
All of the works in the Wichita Art Museum’s collection are available to view in the online database.
After you’re done viewing the thousands of gorgeous pieces of art inside the museum, step outside for even more astonishment in the WAM Art Garden. Visitors can walk through it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Art Garden opened in 2015 and surrounds the Wichita Art Museum. It is packed with greenery, more than 100 new trees, 600 shrubs and more than 20,000 flowers and grasses all native to Kansas. The 13 outdoor sculptures add beauty to the landscape, as the Arkansas River flows in the background. The Art Garden is a beautiful oasis you’ll have to experience for yourself.
The Wichita Art Museum exhibits are ever changing and include a variety of mediums and styles. From abstract photography to oil painting, glass art to pottery, there is a vast array of artwork and masterpieces at the museum at any given time.
Pre-Columbian art, including artifacts and terra cotta sculptures, showcase the Mayan and Azteca cultures. Learn how ancient people created these works of art and the hidden stories behind each piece when you visit the museum.
The Living Room is a place for kids to get a fun, hands-on, interactive feel for art and creativity. With several art projects linked to what’s live in the galleries, kids can find inspiration and take their creation home. The museum provides supplies for free.
Student groups never have to pay when they come to the museums and there are a several different options for educational experiences. From Art Start, an encouraging event each month that teaches children to be creative, to guided tours and access to the WAM Research Library.
Also, the Wichita Art Museum is free every Saturday, thanks to Colby Sandlian of Sandlian Realty.
For more information on this museum and others in Wichita, click here.