MANHATTAN — A new exhibition at the Kansas State University Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art brings together historic artworks collected by K-12 schools and emphasizes their importance as educational resources for schools and local communities.
“To the Stars Through Art: A History of Art Collecting in Kansas Public Schools, 1900-1950” opens Tuesday, Aug. 22, in the Beach Museum of Art’s Marion Pelton and Hyle Family galleries, and it features 70 paintings and prints from more than a dozen schools and history museums across the state.
Featured artists include Blackbear Bosin, Norma Bassett Hall, Birger Sandzén, Ethel Spears and Walter Ufer. Sandzén, from Lindsborg, was a driving force in the historic campaign to bring original artwork to Kansas schools.
Elizabeth Seaton, Beach Museum of Art curator, said the exhibition’s title was inspired by the state motto — “ad astra per aspera,” or “to the stars through difficulty” — and alludes to the challenge of keeping the arts in the forefront of education.
“One goal of the ‘To the Stars Through Art’ exhibition is to show the vital role American art played — and might play again — in Kansas schools and their communities,” said Seaton. “A prominent theme is the heavy community involvement in the campaign to bring original artwork into Kansas schools. The exhibition also seeks to guide Kansas schools in caring for their collections and using art for educational enrichment.”
Kansas counties represented in the exhibition include Cowley, Douglas, Johnson, Labette, Marshall, McPherson, Riley, Saline, Shawnee, Trego, Sedgwick, Wilson and Wyandotte.
The museum is hosting several special events related to the exhibition. The Sue Jean Covacevich Educators Conference: Inspiring Students Through Art Collecting will take place from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Beach Museum of Art.
There will also be a livestreamed conversation with Nicole Grabow, director of preventive conservation at the Midwest Art Conservation Center, and Sarah Price, collections manager at the Beach Museum of Art. The conversation, “Best Practices for the Care of Art in Schools,” will occur at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16.
The exhibition is organized by Seaton in collaboration with regional scholars and museum curators. Funding for the exhibition is provided in part by Humanities Kansas, a nonprofit cultural organization that connects communities with history, traditions and ideas to strengthen civic life.
“To the Stars Through Art: A History of Art Collecting in Kansas Public Schools, 1900-1950” can be viewed through May 11, 2024.