Field Trip to Wichita

This week’s post is by Jordan Griffis.

Last Wednesday, the museum team and student workers went on a field trip to Wichita, Kansas. The trip to Wichita gave us all an opportunity to visit some new art museums and network outside of our usual circles. The group included our full-time staff members: Louise, Shawn, Carla, and myself, as well as our two GRAs – Krystle and Mary Kathryn – and finally, our undergraduate intern Crystal.

The OSUMA group listens to our tour guide at the Allen-Lambe House explaining Wright’s unconventional design of the entryway. Photo by Krystle Brewer.

Our first stop was the Allen-Lambe House, a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (once named the greatest American architect of all time). We were able to tour the house and learn little-known facts about the family who lived there, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright’s career and (fascinating) design process. My favorite fun fact: Wright was notorious for going into people’s houses that he designed – years later, while they were away – and rearranging all their furniture in the way he intended it to be.

Tom Otterness, “Millipede,” 2008. Part of the public art collection at Wichita State University (click the image to read a previous blog post about yarn-bombing and see Otterness’s sculpture all dressed up!). Photo by Krystle Brewer.

Next we visited the Ulrich Museum of Art on the Wichita State campus. I found it particularly valuable to visit another university museum as we build our own Postal Plaza and contemplate how to balance the interaction between campus and community while best serving our audience. From an outreach and communications perspective, I left with a lot of ideas and inspiration after hearing about some of their programming and student involvement strategies. The Ulrich staff was incredibly gracious to meet with us all, give us a tour, and share most of their workday with us. I know I’m not the only one who benefitted from meeting other museum professionals who work in the unique “university museum” environment, which has its own set of challenges and rewards.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled (Placebo),” candy installation. On view in the McKnight Atrium of the School of Art and Design as part of the exhibition, “Response to Provocation: Living Memoirs of the Culture Wars,” on view through December 7, 2012. In the background is David Wojnarowicz’s “Fire In My Belly.” Photo by Crystal Labrosse.

And probably most importantly … they had a Felix Gonzalez-Torres candy installation on campus!! That should just speak for itself.

Students and staff in the galleries at the Wichita Art Museum. Photo by Krystle Brewer.

Finally, we stopped at the Wichita Art Museum where we got to go behind the scenes and see all of the storage areas and operations that usual museum-goers might not think about. The WAM is a huge building, so seeing all of the “secret” rooms and work areas was really impressive.

The woodshop at the Wichita Art Museum allows them to build exhibition furniture and other items in-house.

It was a great opportunity – especially during this transition time for us – to visit other institutions and see how they operate, as well as make connections and new friends outside our usual Oklahoma art community!

The museum staff and students outside the Allen-Lambe House, Wichita, KS.


About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
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