Current Exhibitions

Robert Cottingham, Wichita, 1985. Gouache on paper, 30 1/4 x 40 1/4 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Burneta Adair Endowment Fund

386,552: Art for Wichita

Named after the 2016 census-bureau population of Wichita, the exhibition 386,552 explores the unique artistic scene of the city and the ways in which the arts are vital to Wichita's community and culture.

Through permanent collection objects that celebrate the city and unique insight into the history of the arts in Wichita, 386,552 celebrates the art and artists that have helped to make Wichita a vibrant place to live.

In partnership with ICT Army of Artists--a collective of creatives, activists, and provocateurs connecting with Wichita neighborhoods and engaging people in innovative cultural interventions--the exhibition will feature two art-vending machines that will distribute art from seven local artists. Individual works of art will be featured in the machines for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, the next work will be featured.

Starting November 29, vending machines will feature artwork by Alexis Riverre, Emily Chamberlain, Sam Miller Gott, Erin Raux, Dane Jones, and Trisha Coates.

On view in the Kurdian Gallery. 


Sigmund Abeles, Tiger Lily, 1978. Lithograph, 14 x 21 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. William G. Wagner

Printmaking is... Intimate

The medium of printmaking spans a wide variety of techniques, styles, and aesthetics.With a long, international history, the milestones of the history of printmaking can be traced from ancient China, through the Dutch Renaissance and 1950s America to the present day.

The versatile techniques offered by the centuries-old practice of printmaking are adapted to a wide variety of needs, enabling artists to capture an endless variety of scenes and subjects. Aesthetically, printmaking encompasses the clean chiaroscuro of etching, the soft gradient of aquatint, the lively lines of lithographs, and the bold colors of silkscreens.

Printmaking is a diverse and exciting medium. This series of exhibitions, featuring works of art from the Wichita Art Museum collection, explores the endless variety of creative efforts that fall under the category of printmaking.

This second installment, Printmaking is Intimate, explores artists' use of varied print techniques to create works of art that explore personal subjects. Intimate in scale or in subject matter, these prints demonstrate a wide variety of artistic vision and process. Though printmaking was utilized for very practical purposes in its early history--marking goods, printing books, and distributing scientific information--artistry and expression soon were intertwined with the medium. The process of printing ink on paper may seem straightforward. But, in the hands of these artists, prints are engaged in the expression of intimacy. The ideas or emotions, environments or allies captured in ink on paper demonstrate the poignant possibilities of printmaking.

On view in the Vollmer Gallery.


Clark V. Britton, Man with Orange Crown and Green Hat, March 2016. Cut paper sculpture, 7 1/4 x 3 7/8 x 3 3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artis

Past and Present: Wichita's Legacy and Today’s Creatives - Lester Raymer and Clark Britton

Past and Present: Wichita's Legacy and Today's Creatives is a series of exhibitions organized in celebration and recognition of the city's artistic heritage. 

The second exhibition in this series highlights Lester Raymer. Raymer's eclectic subject matter--which spanned a range of subjects from religion, to theater, to people and objects from everyday life--was matched by his embrace of a variety of materials. Raymer took ordinary things, generally discarded mundane objects, and transformed them into beautiful works of art and crafts, gifts, toys and decorative elements for his studio. The exhibition will feature work drawn from WAM's permanent collection and key loans from Raymer's Red Barn Studio in Lindsborg, Kansas.

This exhibition celebrates Raymer's signature style and its echoes in today's Wichita arts scene--especially in the cut-paper vignettes, sculptures, and prints of featured Wichita artist Clark Britton.

On view in the DeVore Gallery.


Michelle Marie Murphy, Beauty Flex, 2013. Single channel video, color, silent. Courtesy of the artist


The invention of film began with a bet.

In 1872, Leland Stanford (railroad magnate, California senator, racehorse owner, and eventual founder of Stanford University) hired English photographer Eadweard Muybridge to settle a gentleman's wager.

Contrary to popular opinion, Stanford believed that during their top-speed stride, the four hooves of a horse were all off the ground. In order to test this theory, Muybridge devised a system of 12 split-second cameras to capture a galloping horse at all points in its run. The images--which proved Stanford’s theory and won him the bet--made international news. Muybridge presented the photographs in a single composition. He printed each of the 12 individual images together, in sequence, creating a single collaged image of movement.

In 1879, Muybridge took his composition one step further. He invented the zoopraxiscope, a device with a rotating disc that projected images sequentially. Now an observer could actually see the horse galloping. After a public showing in San Francisco, a reporter gushed, "Nothing was wanting, but the clatter of hooves upon the turf and the occasional breath of steam to make the spectator believe he had before him the flesh-and-blood steeds." Muybridge's important artistic triumphs led to the birth of motion pictures in 1889.

This shared history between fine art and film is still alive in contemporary art. When choosing to create work that references film culture, many artists still utilize a similar collage aesthetic. By layering, grouping, and sequencing images in their final composition, these artists celebrate the common ancestry of the two media. This exhibition explores this artistic vein in prints, photography, painting, and new media.

Art+Film features work by Joseph Beuys, Michelle Marie Murphy, Tracey Moffatt, Roger Shimomora, and more. Come explore the intersection of Art+Film in this dynamic exhibition that pairs collection artworks with key loans from the artists.

On view in the Paul Ross Gallery and the Scott and Carol Ritchie Gallery


John Steuart Curry, Kansas Cornfield, 1933. Oil on canvas, 60 3/8 x 38 3/8 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Roland P. Murdock Collection

Storytelling: Highlights and Insights from the Wichita Art Museum Collection

Every work of art has a story to tell.

When John Steuart Curry was growing up in on his family farm near Dunavant, Kansas, he would often wander into the high fields of corn. "I remember," he wrote, "wandering through them and being over-powered by the fear of being  lost in their green confines."

At 35 years of age, Curry returned to those fields to capture in his work the same sense of drama he felt, "beneath our windblown Kansas skies." For Curry, Kansas Cornfield represented the story of his youth on a Kansas farm.

When Curry's Kansas Cornfield entered WAM's permanent collection, a new chapter in its tale was written and a new story began. The work was the first painting collected by the Wichita Art Museum. As the foundational work of art for the new museum, the painting came to symbolize WAM's commitment to both the highest caliber American art and to Kansas audiences.

Today, Kansas Cornfield has become a part of many visitors' personal stories. Brett Zongker, an Associated Press journalist based in Washington D.C., recently featured the painting on his popular Twitter feed. As a self-described "son of Kansas," the painting represents home to Zongker.

Museums, by their very nature, are repositories of incredible stories. The Wichita Art Museum has introduced its visitors to the best American artwork and has been a part of thousands of engaging stories. In celebration of the museum's upcoming 80th anniversary in 2015, Storytelling, a reinstallation of the permanent collection, celebrates the histories, mysteries, and anecdotes that make the Wichita Art Museum collection unlike any other.

Each and every one of WAM's objects has a story to tell. What influenced its creation? Who is pictured? How did the work come to Wichita? Storytelling invites visitors to take another look at familiar favorites from the collection as well as important works that have been off view for many years. We hope that the artworks inspire a meaningful encounter with the past, one that is relevant to everyone's personal story today.

On view in the Louise Caldwell Murdock Gallery, Elizabeth S. Navas Gallery, and the Excel/Cargill Cares Gallery.


Seattle-based independent curator Vicki Halper consulted on the museum's new glass display in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery

Art of Fire: Glass Art from the WAM Collection

Reimagined anew and opening in April, the museum presents a compelling arrangement of the distinguished and growing glass art collection. For the new display, the museum consulted with the Seattle-based independent curator and craft scholar Vicki Halper.

Notably, Halper curated WAM's popular 2014 summer exhibition Australian Glass Art, American Links for the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington.

Revealing WAM's rich holdings , the variety, quality, and artistry of Steuben glass will be presented. In fascinating ways, the exquisite work of the Steuben Glass Works, the world-class glass manufacturer (1903—2011), continues to beguile and inspire artists. The new installation will acknowledge and examine how contemporary glass artists explore the continuing allure and legacy of Steuben. Magnificent work by such living artists as Dante Marioni and Kiki Smith will be on view.

The new collection display also features a new commission--an elaborate, Steuben-inspired candelabrum--by glass artist Andy Paiko. This special work will be effervescent! It incorporates an abundantly enthusiastic array of forms and techniques first developed by Steuben. Paiko's tapering candle holders that hang gracefully from the central form, each demonstrate the Steuben "air-twist" technique, perfected by designer George Thompson. The cinched, bell-shaped forms of upper part of the large-scale candleholder are typical of Thompson's designs. WAM's collection includes original sketches by Thompson during his time working for Steuben, making Paiko’s re-imagining of Thompson's forms particularly relevant to the collection.

On view in the F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust Gallery.


Pairpoint Glass, Candlestick (one of a pair), about 1920–1925. Blown glass, 10 1/16 x 5 3/16 inches. Gift of Robert S. Burnstein

Catching Light: Selections from the Wichita Art Museum's Burnstein Collection

Dr. Robert Burnstein, a Detroit psychiatrist, began collecting glass in the 1980s. He was attracted to American glass of the 19th and 20th centuries because, as he stated, "it was a time when handcrafted expertise and precision craftsmanship were the benchmarks of the American glass industry."

Soon he came to find that among American companies, the glass produced by Steuben was unsurpassed in quality, color intensity, and breadth of design.

Therefore, he focused his collecting first on Steuben, then on candlesticks in particular. He concentrated on candlesticks given their elegance of design and great variety of their colors and decorative techniques. Dr. Burnstein has presented his collection in honor of his parents, Donald and Arlene Burnstein.

On view in the Lulu H. Brasted Board Room.


Charles M. Russell, Indian Buffalo Hunt, 1897. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 48 1/4 inches. M. C. Naftzger Collection

Heritage of the West

Charles Russell was one of the great painters of the American West. With little formal training but much firsthand experience of his subject, he captured the western landscape, wildlife, cowboys, and Indians in all of its wild if nostalgic moments.

In 1880, when he was only 16, Russell went to Montana for the first time to work on a family friend’s ranch. Ranch life was not for Russell, but he would stay in Montana for two years working for a hunter and trapper.

He began to draw and paint animals at this time and learned a great deal about their anatomy. In 1882, he went to work as a night herder for a group of cowboys called the Judith Basin Roundup, and on and off for the next 11 years he would work watching cattle by night and painting during the day.

In 1888, Russell returned to St. Louis for a short time and submitted some of his art to Harpers Weekly, where it was published. His work had become very popular in the Montana territory, and he began to sell pieces and take commissions for works when he returned.

With the advent of the railroad to Montana, the territory became more civilized, and Russell mostly gave up cowboy life in order to become a full time painter of the life he had known in the West that was now slowly fading.

On view in the Charles M. Russell Gallery.


Thomas Moran, The Waterfall, 1857. Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 40 1/2 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the Robert M. Beren and Joan S. Beren Foundation

An American Salon: 19th-century Paintings from the Wichita Art Museum's Permanent Collection

The term salon style derives from the exhibition of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, which began in 1667 in Paris.

In order to display work by all the Academy's students, the paintings were hung as close as possible from floor to ceiling. In the nineteenth century, this salon-style hanging became increasingly popular across Europe and in the United States. The gallery has been transformed into an American salon featuring remarkable 19th-century paintings from the museum's permanent collection.

On view in the Carlene and Lee Banks Rotunda Gallery.


Unknown (Costa Rican), Seated Man on Tripod Base, 100 B.C. - 550 A.D. Terra cotta, 3 1/2 inches. Gift of Louise and S. O. Beren with assistance from the Wichita Art Museum Endowment Association

Pre-Columbian Art and Artifacts from the Museum's Collection

This display showcases WAM's unique collection of Pre-Columbian art. These sculptures and vessels in terra cotta and stone represent the ancient Indian cultures of Mexico and Middle America including cultures such as the Maya and Aztec.

This collection complements the museum's outstanding American art collection by bridging the gap between the indigenous American cultures and the post-European cultural developments in America.

In Mesoamerican culture, pottery was appreciated as an artistic medium--a way people could express emotions and ideas--not solely as a utilitarian material. To make ceramic art, these ancient peoples gathered clay from local sources and formed shapes using only their hands by pinching or coiling the clay. After shaping the objects, they were placed in very hot, open fires and baked until hard.

On view in the Cessna Art Investigation Gallery.

The Living Room

The Living Room, an interactive gallery, is a lively space for the young (as well as the young at heart!) to explore their inner artist.

This bright and spacious area welcomes families in particular for art investigation and make-it/take-it art activities. The museum offers a variety of art projects--always linked to what's on view in the galleries. The fun art activities extend the experience of looking in the galleries to a tactile, physical activity of making. The museum supplies free materials.

This area is often bustling with action, particularly on Saturdays when WAM offers free admission to all. During the active Saturdays in The Living Room, art assistants welcome visitors, suggest different activities, guide the art-making projects, and overall help to enhance the encounters of museum-goers with the visual arts.

1400 West Museum Boulevard Wichita, KS 67203-3200 | 316-268-4921