Spring 2014

The Ulrich Museum Celebrates Its Ruby Anniversary

For 40 years now, the art Wichita State's museum has put before us has stirred our hearts and minds.

Miro's mural at the Ulrich Museum of Art
With WSU President Ahlberg watching, Miró's grand mural is unveiled. Student Government Association President Eric Melgren '79, as well as Mike Meacham '74/98 and other past SGA presidents, are in attendance at the Oct. 31, 1978 dedication ceremony.

Forty years ago, on Dec. 7, 1974, Wichita State's Ulrich Museum of Art opened its doors. It had been WSU President Clark Ahlberg who challenged the university community and its supporters to embrace a larger and more diversified role for the still young state university – a role that would stimulate students, faculty, alumni and other vested parties to "better understand and enjoy their intellectual and visual heritage," as founding museum director Martin Bush, in 1980, would explain the push for the construction of an art complex.

Ahlberg's challenge took shape in 1970, the year the university was gifted with a substantial bequest from the estate of J. Hudson and Eva McKnight to build an art center.

a painting from an Ulrich Museum exhibition

Architect Charles McAfee designed a complex of three buildings, including a striking museum of art. Just after ground was broken for the McKnight Art Center, Edwin Ulrich, a retired businessman from Hyde Park, N.Y., donated 300 paintings, along with a trust to support them, to the university, which named the museum in his honor. From its beginning, the Ulrich Museum sought to be a stimulating and exciting place to visit.

The museum's current exhibition, Forty Years/Forty Stories, on display through Aug. 3, is a must-have experience. Be warned, though. Its name is a misnomer. Forty years, yes – but Wichita State's art museum holds far, far more than 40 stories.

Did you know? The Ulrich was home to visiting artist Gordon Parks in 1978, when selections of his poetry and photography from his series Moments Without Proper Names were featured in the museum's exhibition of his works shown Feb. 1-March 12. Hailed as one of the great photographers of the 20th century, Parks is also noted as a journalist, poet, novelist, film director and composer. Today, Wichita State is home to an extensive collection of the photographer's papers.

Did you know? The Ulrich, thanks to that initial gift from Edwin Ulrich, holds in its collection of American art the most representative group of paintings by Frederick J. Waugh to be found anywhere. This means, interestingly enough, that WSU's landlocked museum has the most extensive collection of works by an artist considered one of the best marine painters in American history.

sculptures from an Ulrich Museum exhibition

Did you know? That one of the museum's most spectacular works of art, the grand mosaic mural Personnages Oiseaux by Joan Miró, was never seen in situ, in person by the great Spanish-born surrealist painter. Made up of some million pieces of vividly colored Venetian glass and white and gray marble, the massive mural was installed on the southern façade of the Ulrich in September and early October of 1978. Exposed to the elements for more than three decades, the mosaic began losing tiles and its exuberant colors began to fade. An ambitious five-year conservation effort was begun in 2011 with the de-installation of the mural.

Did you know? The museum organized an exhibition of Duane Hanson's lifelike, life-size sculptures that showed at the Ulrich in October 1976 and then toured nationwide. At the Ulrich, the Hanson exhibition attracted a crowd of 32,000 visitors in four weeks. The exhibition's success on the road was even more impressive: More than 900,000 people saw the Ulrich-organized show in 10 museums across the country, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.


The Ulrich Museum Celebrates Its Ruby Anniversary

For 40 years now, the art Wichita State's museum has put before us has stirred our hearts and minds.

Something Unique

Roy Moye III is an aerospace engineering major with a talent for singing. The winner of Shockers Got Talent in February, Moye also enjoyed performing in this spring's Hippodrome.

Phi Delta Theta Founders Day Celebration

The Wichita State chapter of Phi Delta Theta held its annual Founders Day Dinner on April 26 in Wichita.

Sororities Participate in Wellness Retreat

Members of six Wichita State sororities took time out of their busy schedules for a Kallistei wellness retreat hosted by Student Involvement Feb. 28-March 2.

Greek Columns

The Greek community at Wichita State is full of brotherhood and sisterhood, tradition and pride.


These Gleanings entries survey the current university scene and feature original illustrations by Scott Dawson ’86.

Heritage Fund

Thank you, Heritage Fund contributors