Current Exhibitions

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.


Unknown Maker, Clown, about 1850–55. Daguerreotype, 2 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc. © Nelson Gallery Foundation

Photographic Wonders: Daguerreotypes from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Wonderful wonder of wonders!!...Here is a revolution in art!

This was the American reaction to the invention and introduction of the photographic daguerreotype in 1839. This winter exhibition presents 82 of the best daguerreotypes from the prized collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, now more than 6,500 strong. Wichita museum-goers will explore the advent of photography in these charming, imaginative historical photographs. Daguerreotypes reflect magical bits of reality from a bygone era. Well over a century later, they still hold wonder and appeal.

The daguerreotype was at once a science and an art, a documentary tool and a charged emblem of emotion and memory. Very early daguerreotypes are enchanting but technically crude: exposures took many minutes and the images are relatively faint. Rapid progress was achieved as practitioners explored the invention’s commercial potential, especially its use in portraiture. In 1840–1842, exposure times were reduced from minutes to seconds, and the tones of the images were greatly improved. The potentials of photography as we know it today were explored in the daguerreotypes of the 1840s and 1850s.

The Wichita presentation will be a reduced selection from the landmark show that opened the new wing at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in 2007. Hallmark Cards developed a world-class early photography collection of 6,500 works that the company donated to the museum as the Bloch Building opened. The scholarly reception of the exhibition and accompanying catalogue has been resoundingly positive and noted as "an unparalleled historical collection of American photography." Wichita audiences will be so impressed by these gems, the accessible learning, and the creative gallery presentation.

This exhibition has been organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.

On view in the John W. and Mildred L. Graves Gallery and the Louise and S.O. Beren Gallery.


Ethan Turpin, Snowball Fight with a Polar Bear, Arctic Circle, 2012. Chromogenic print on stereocard, 3 1/2 x 7 inches. Courtesy of the artist

Five Alchemists: Contemporary Photographers Explore 19th-Century Techniques

As the technical revolution of digital photography explodes, some artists have turned away from the speed and ease of digital imagining.


The five artists chosen for this exhibition--David Emitt Adams, Jody Ake, Ethan Turpin, Heidi Kirkpatrick, and Eric Mertens--explore previously abandoned forms of chemical photography.

Going back to 19th-century manuals, these artists rediscover and reinterpret the techniques and magic of photography's pioneers for today's world.

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


Norma Bassett Hall, Old Sycamore, 1942. Color block print,
13 1/2 x 11 1/8 inches. Courtesy Lockhart Family Collection

Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Prints of Norma Bassett Hall

Guest-curated by Dr. Joby Patterson, Chipping the Block is the first one-woman exhibition of artist Norma Bassett Hall's work since her death in 1957.

Born in Oregon, Bassett Hall studied at the Portland Art Association and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1922, she married Arthur Hall, who had been a fellow student at the Art Institute, and the couple settled in El Dorado, Kansas.

It was during these early years in Kansas that Bassett Hall explored the artistic possibilities of woodblock printing. 1930 marked the launch of the Prairie Print Makers, with Bassett Hall as the only female founding member. In her work, Hall employed line, color, and pattern with delicate skill, using up to seven blocks for each print.

On view in the Kurdian Gallery.

Art We Love

2015 marks the 80th anniversary of the Wichita Art Museum.

To celebrate this milestone, "Art We Love" is a series of three exhibitions across the year that will feature works of art chosen by a cross-section of people who call Wichita home.

In addition to the selection by guest community curators, each presentation of "Art We Love" will feature one artwork selected by popularity vote online. Benefactor Louise Caldwell Murdock gave a bequest to found the art museum and build its collection--for the Wichita community. This special series continues and honors her vision by inviting community members to come behind-the-scene and chose a favorite artwork to share with the public.

The first Art We Love installment features works of art from WAM’s collection chosen by:

On view in the Vollmer Gallery.



Birger Sandzen, "Farm on Smoky River," 1936. Lithograph on paper, 16 1/8 x 20 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Virginia Vollmer Barr, Clarence E. Vollmer Collection

Prairie Print Makers: Process, Style, Meaning

The Prairie Print Makers--the famous Wichita artist group formed in 1930--produced some of the nation’s bestrespected fine art prints during the era.

The Wichita Art Museum is the proud repository of over 300 prints by this important group. This exhibition explores the different processes and styles embraced by the Prairie Print Makers, especially Japanese woodblock techniques.

The show is composed of work from the museum's collection with a few
strategic loans, and it complements the special exhibition of Norma Bassett Hall, the only woman artist among the Prairie Print Makers founders.

On view in the DeVore 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, currently on view in the Lulu H. Brasted Board Room.


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.


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.

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