Kansas State University


Beach Blog

Author: Adrianne Russell

Adrianne is the Beach Museum of Art's Public Programs Coordinator. She is a technophile, avid reader, and unabashed art nerd.

New Year, New Exhibitions

As we turn the page on a new calendar year there’s much to be excited about, especially when it comes to our first exhibitions of 2014.

John Steuart Curry: Prairie Journeys
January 14 – May 11, 2014

John Steuart Curry (1897-1946), The Plainsman, 1945, lithograph on paper.

Featuring a small selection of the approximately 900 Curry works in the Beach Museum’s collection, this exhibition presents a range of images depicting the Great Plains including pioneer settlement, American Indian movement, and the struggles between Civil War-era abolitionists and pro-slavery forces.






Take Shelter: An Installation by Tom Parish
February 4 – May 25, 2014 

Tom Parish, T. Candon Root Cellar, 2013, inkjet print on paper.

Parish, a Manhattan, Kansas-based artist and K-State graduate, spent two years documenting native stone cellars in the Flint Hills. This multi-media installation, funded in part by the Kansas Humanities Council, includes 360-degree large scale photographs of the cellars, maps, audio recordings, and written text.


Painting Borges: Art Interpreting Literature
March 7 – May 18, 2014 

Paul Sierra, Asterión, 2009, oil on canvas.

Jorge Luis Borges is one of Latin America’s most celebrated literary figures. Philosophy and visual art intersect in this exhibition as twelve of Borges’ most famous stories about identity and memory, faith and divinity, and freedom and destiny are represented by Cuban and Argentinean artists. And don’t miss the reading room adjacent to the exhibition featuring books and other unique materials related to Borges’ work, presented in partnership with K-State Libraries.




Be sure to check out our calendar for upcoming programs and events related to these exhibitions. We hope to see you soon!

The Original “Selfie”

The Oxford Dictionary Online recently named “selfie” as its 2013 Word of the Year. Defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”, selfies have quickly become the go-to way for people of all walks of life to document their every move.

Museums are no stranger to selfies. I’m definitely guilty of taking my fair share at art, science, and history museums. Based on the new tumblr, Museum Selfies, I’m not alone! And museums are increasingly encouraging people to document and share pics from their visits.

Source: Museum Selfies tumblr, seanjesusprice http://ift.tt/1c6SzeD

It seems like for as long as we have been able to reproduce images, humans have left physical proof of how our time on earth was spent. And if you consider self portraits (including the works from the Beach Museum of Art collection pictured below), visual artists have always been ahead of the selfie trend.

Joseph Piccillo, Self Portrait, 1982
Edgar Degas, Self Portrait
Chuck Close, Title Unknown (self-portrait), 1992
Ellen Lanyon, Self Portrait, ca. 1948
Renée Stout, Self Portrait, 2011-2012


Learning from the Museum of Wonder

This post by Kathrine Schlageck, Senior Educator, explores the lessons gained from the recent Museum of Wonder exhibition which celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Kansas State University. 

The “Museum of Wonder” exhibition, with its accompanying “Library of Wonder”, was an experiment for the Beach Museum of Art. The collection of objects drawn from the K-State campus was presented in a manner designed to challenge regular museum categories and to focus on the visual or aesthetic qualities of objects rather than purpose or discipline. One notable characteristic of this exhibition was the lack of traditional museum labels.

What did we learn?

The myriad objects engaged visitors and alumni were especially excited to see “old friends.” Countless faculty and graduates recognized objects from their departments. One alumnus even recognized his handwriting on the label of the Oreodon skull.

The Library of Wonder, with the opportunities it provided to observe closely, touch objects, and do one’s own research, drew a lot of praise, especially from families. Visitors appreciated the chance to be interactive in a museum setting and the microscope was well-used.

But judging by the comment cards, about half of our audience was frustrated, even though they liked the exhibition itself and were engaged with the objects. Comments ranged from wishing for simple identifying labels to more extended labels that explained the purpose or told the stories of the objects. These visitors wanted more information than the list of objects available in the gallery–for example where was the mammoth molar found?–and were apparently unaware of the extensive information provided in the Library of Wonder. One visitor commented, “…loved the objects, but it was like visiting an antique store. We wanted labels to help us understand more about context, age, etc.” Another visitor said, “…there should have been information on everything so that a guest might learn something, which is what museums are meant for.”

On the other hand, many visitors seemed unfazed by the lack of labels. “Bravo,” says one comment card, “you encourage deeper contemplation and critical analysis by presenting the artifacts and allowing the viewer to interpret them.” Said another, “A genius theme and beautiful ideas. My mind had a chance to work.”


These diverse reactions provided the museum staff with some important information about visitor preferences. The exhibition was organized to emphasize non-traditional and visual relationships between objects and to challenge the visitor to proactively discover relationships. For example there were a number of aesthetic groupings: The hat with the green bow and the brain coral were similar in shape and texture. The shells of the beetles displayed similar colors to the Marjorie Shick sculpture. The white bones of the cow echoed the white-on-white play of shadows in the plaster relief sculptures from the Department of Architecture.

The Library of Wonder invited visitors to follow their own interests. Howard Gardner, an educational psychologist at Harvard University, has written about multiple intellgences related to the way we seek and assimilate information. Some people are interested in how something is made, while others are more interested in the story behind an object. The Library of Wonder allowed visitors to pursue different avenues of research and, hopefully, encouraged new ways of seeing and thinking.