Home » 2005 Cross Country Road Trip

Spencer Art Museum - University of Kansas, KS

Sunday, July 31, 2005 - 6:00am by Lolo
145 miles and 2.5 hours from our last stop


Part way through our trip, Andrew informed us that he had to visit two art museums this summer for his AP Art History course. Not wanting to have to rush around when we got home and desperately wanting to find things to break up our long driving days home, I searched the guidebooks for some ideas. The first one I came up with was the Spencer Art Museum at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The campus was only a short distance off of I70 so it was hardly out of our way at all.

Haunted by the Ghosts of Our Own MakingHaunted by the Ghosts of Our Own MakingWe parked in the large campus parking lot on Mississippi Street, right next to the museum. The campus was totally deserted--probably because it was a Sunday in late July--but fortunately the museum was open. Being photography buffs, we were delighted to see the Exhibit banner over the doorway announcing that the "Daguerreotype to Digital" exhibit was going to be there until July 31. That was today! How fortunate. The exhibit, which surveyed the history of photography from the 1840s to the present, was fabulous.

I had to tear Andrew away to concentrate on his AP Art History assignment, which was to select a painting to analyze. We wandered through the various gallery rooms looking for something that struck his interest. In the 20th and 21st century gallery, we were attracted to a brightly colored painting of a table set with food with a sunset colored background. It was entitled "Haunted by the Ghosts of Our Own Making." Upon closer inspection, we noticed that the painting was a lot more than just a pleasant dinner scene. Two barely visible skeletons were serving the food, the letters "DDT" were written faintly above the table, and the frame was covered with scripted writing warning of the dangers of cancer-causing pesticides. We then learned that the artist, Hollis Sigler, was struggling with breast cancer when she made this painting and that she died shortly afterwards. Now that we knew more about its meaning and context, the painting seemed totally different to us than our first impression of it. The boys were starting to really get into it. I love art history, so I was delighted.

As soon as we got back in the RV, I started looking for our next art museum to visit.


The Spencer Art Museum is located at 1301 Mississippi Street, on the northeast corner of the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence. Since the museum is part of the University and serves as a resource for teaching art history, humanities, and fine arts, its collection is quite comprehensive.

There are seven galleries that display selections from the more than 25,000 works of art in the museum's permanent collection. These pieces span the history of European, North American, and East Asian art. Areas of particular strength are medieval art; European and American paintings, sculpture, and prints; photography, Japanese painting and prints; and 20th century Chinese painting.

More than half of the Western paintings and sculpture are on permanent exhibit. The much more numerous Western and Asian prints, drawings, photographs, and the Museum's renowned quilt collection, are shown on a rotating basis in short-term, thematic exhibitions.

Gallery hours are:
Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday Noon - 5 p.m.
Closed on Mondays

Spencer Art Museum - University of Kansas location map in "high definition"

Javascript is required to view this map.