Current Exhibitions
WAM is temporarily closed

To minimize the transmission risk associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), The Wichita Art Museum, a City of Wichita facility, will be closed temporarily. This closure includes the Museum Store and the Muse Cafe. The City will closely monitor the situation and will continue to make facility reopening adjustments as needed. 

WAM has cancelled or postponed public museum events through Monday, June 1.

For a complete list of upcoming WAM events and their status, go to wichitaartmuseum.org/calendar.

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Preston Singletary, Dleit Yeil (White Raven), 2018. Blown, hot-sculpted, and sand-carved glass, 19 1/4 x 9 x 14 inches. Courtesy of the artist

Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight

The Wichita Art Museum will present a dynamic, theatrical gallery experience--one that combines glass art, film projection, sound, and storytelling. As visitors progress through each scene more beautiful and arresting than the next, they will discover the Pacific Northwest Tlingit story of Raven, the white bird in darkness that brings light to the world. Museum of Glass commissioned Seattle-based artist and internationally regarded Preston Singletary to create this unique staging of the Native American foundational story of Raven.

Singletary uniquely combines European glass traditions with Northwest Native art. The artist grew up within the Pacific Northwest glass community. He became a fixture at Pilchuck Glass School founded by Dale Chihuly in the Northwest woods. Singletary also sought training in Sweden at Kosta Boda and with Italian master glass artists Lino Tagliapietra and Pino Signoretta. With Northwest Native icons, animal spirits, and basketry designs, Singletary has transitioned Northwest Native art to a new dimension in glass, expertly crafted.

The artist is now internationally revered, and his art is included in collections including The British Museum in LondonNational Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Smithsonian Institution in D.C., and Seattle Art Museum, among many others. 

Raven and the Box of Daylight is organized by Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, and Preston Singletary. The exhibition is guest curated by Dr. Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Tlingit/Zuni). The multisensory visitor experience is designed by zoe | juniper

The Wichita presentation has been generously underwritten by presenting sponsor F. Price Cossman Memorial Trust, INTRUST Bank, Trustee. Lead patrons are DeVore Foundation and Mrs. Judy Slawson. Fred and Mary Koch Foundation provided additional major underwriting. Charles E. Baker is a principal sponsor. Emprise Bank is a substantial corporate sponsor. 

Generous support has been provided by Louise Beren, Berry Foundation, Donna Bunk, Mary Eves, Norma Greever, Dr. Dennis and Mrs. Ann Ross, Mary Sue Smith, Sarah T. Smith, K.T. Wiedemann Foundation, Janice and Jeff Van Sickle, and Sue and Kurt Watson.

Dr. John and Nancy Brammer, Sharon and Alan Fearey, Toni and Bud Gates, Carol and H. Guy Glidden, Patti Gorham and Jeff Kennedy, Sonia Greteman and Chris Brunner, Mary and Delmar Klocke, and Will and Kristin Price are additional exhibition patrons.

All museum exhibitions receive generous sponsorship from the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum and the City of Wichita.

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Louis Orr, Notre-Dame de Paris, 1924. Etching, 14 7/8 x 16 inches. Wichita Art Museum, C. A. Seward Memorial Collection

Notre-Dame and Beyond: Prints and Watercolors of Churches and Cathedrals from the Collection

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, medieval Gothic architecture—originally built more than 500 years before—was suddenly popular again. Architects, engineers, and designers used these structural marvels as prototypes for modern skyscrapers. Political radicals and reformers saw cathedrals as emblems of local government and community. Monarchists and political conservatives viewed them as symbols of the traditional, religious past they longed to regain. Whatever the politics, whatever the country, everyone loved cathedrals.

As Gothic fever swept Europe and America, artists increasingly looked to these centuries-old monuments for inspiration. From luminous watercolors to exacting architectural renderings, Notre-Dame and Beyond features elegant works on paper that chronicle the shifting understanding and relevance of these iconic buildings. Their continued importance, even in 2020, was recently highlighted by the outpouring of emotion that occurred after last spring’s fire at Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral.

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Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Untitled, 1983. Color lithograph, 28 1/4 x 20 1/4 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Burneta Adair Endowment Fund

Native Voices: Modern and Contemporary Native American Art from the Permanent Collection

Native Voices surveys art by modern and contemporary Native artists from WAM's collection, exploring how these artists challenge boundaries and expectations to expand traditional definitions of Indian, American, and modern art. Featuring prints, paintings, and ceramics by artists from more than a dozen tribes, Native Voices is shown in conjunction with Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight, WAM's major spring exhibition.

In Raven and the Box of Daylight, glass artist Preston Singletary--a member of the Pacific Northwest Tlingit tribe--combines contemporary glass art with Tlingit themes and designs. Like Singletary, each artist in Native Voices combines personal heritage and identity with global influences to create art with a singular voice. 

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Charles M. Russell, Smoking Cattle out of the Breaks, 1912. Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 33 inches.  M.C. Naftzger Collection

Charles M. Russell and the American West

The American West has special majesty in its expansive landscape and many cultures. Among legions, Charles Marion Russell (1864–1926) is one of the premier artists of the historic American West.

Stories and images of the American West of the 19th- and early 20th-century reflect a fascinating combination of fact and fiction—in the visual arts as well as popular culture. In fact, as Russell painted the West, historians already acknowledged its end. Frederick Jackson famously noted the closing of the frontier and Old West in 1893. Russell’s depictions of the Old West, therefore, weave nostalgia with the artist’s focused storytelling. Viewers see traditions and virtues of the West as Russell envisioned them.

Charles Russell grew up in St. Louis and first traveled west in 1880. He lived as a ranch hand and only committed himself fulltime to his art in 1893. He settled in Great Falls, Montana, in 1897. Russell depicted the romance and allure of life in the Wild West, and his scenes of cowboy adventures and American Indian hunting are captivating. They reveal an idealized even glorified slice of the Old West, while this chapter of American history is nuanced, complicated, and was at times lawless and dishonorable.

Russell’s firsthand experience outdoors as a ranch hand and with Native Americans lends important authenticity to his distinctive realism, and it contributed to his strong reputation for careful accuracy.

The Wichita Art Museum holds a prized collection by Charles Russell, thanks to the generosity of passionate collector and museum leader M.C. Naftzger (1884–1972) and his family. In Wichita, Naftzger Memorial Park on Douglas Avenue is named for M.C. Naftzger.

 

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No Idle Hands: Treasures from the Americana Collection at the Wichita Art Museum

No Idle Hands gives museum visitors a chance to view the art and artifacts that reflect daily life in America's early history. The exhibition features highlights from WAM's newly acquired collection of more than 450 works of American folk art, including some of the best furniture, samplers, hunting decoys and lures, and corner store paraphernalia from the new collection.

It tells the story of America's past while also foregrounding the beautiful materials and craftsmanship of many of these objects.

WAM's curatorial staff organized the exhibition with local architect Dean Bradley, of Platt, Bradley, Adams, and Associates. As a specialist in residential architecture with a personal passion for history and preservation who also serves on the board of The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Bradley designed a gallery installation evoking the stores and homes in which the works were originally used and cherished. Shop signs--including iconic striped barber poles--conjure up an image of Main Street. Portraits, toys, and miniatures--small, hand-held portraits sometimes worn as jewelry--reference the life of the family and home. Each object--some rare and precious and others common fare—tells the story of the changes and continuities of daily life in America over the last 200 years.

On view in the Vollmer Gallery.

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Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, about 1890. Oil, 35 1/2 x 25 3/8 inches. 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 80th anniversary in 2015, Storytelling, underwent a reinstallation of the permanent collection, celebrating 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.

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Titian Ramsay Peale, Ruffled Grouse in a Landscape, 1873. Oil on canvas, 16 x 22 inches. Museum purchase, Wichita Art Museum Members 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.

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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.

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Mexican (Teotihuacan), Cylinder Tripod Vessel, about 450-600 B.C. Terra cotta, 7 x 6 1/2 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Haig, Rima, and Gregory Kurdian

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

WAM's unique collection of Pre-Columbian art and artifacts was collected by Haig Kurdian between 1954-1959 during expeditions into Mexico and Costa Rica. The collection is mostly pottery, a few pieces of metal, carved shells, and precious stones.

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.

"I particularly love that tripod bowl, from Teotihuacan, with the square legs. It's a superb, beautiful piece. To think that someone made that, not on a potter's wheel, but by piling up coils of clay, then working it and firing it. And it's survived at least 2,500 years. The other tripod bowl I love represents a squash and has parrot legs. That one is from Colima," Kurdian said.

The artifacts originated from various locations in Mexico including Colima, Veracruz, Valley of Mexico, Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Guerrero. The collection includes artifacts from Costa Rica: including Atlantic Watershed, Guanacaste-Nicoya Zone, and the Diquis Zone. The objects date from 1000 B.C. to 1450 A.D.

The collection was given to the Wichita Art Museum by Haig, Rima, and Gregory Kurdian in 1977. Then in 1986, Louise and S.O. Beren offered WAM a selection of artifacts, they had earlier received from Haig's expeditions.

On view in the Cessna Art Investigation Gallery.

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