Beach Museum reopens, prepares for anniversary year

K-State's Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art lies on the far south side of campus, serving as a consistent location for students to view different types of artwork. (Archive photo by Evert Nelson | Collegian Media Group)

The doors are open at Kansas State’s Beach Museum of Art, and staff members are ready to welcome the community back for several events and exhibitions this semester.

Additionally, the art museum has adjusted how it is presenting art.

“We’ve tried to give a lot of thought to planning programs that will, we hope, be in person, but that can continue to serve remote audiences,” Director Linda Duke said. “Not only because that gives us insurance if, for some reason, we can’t do them live, but also because during this past year and a half, people have enjoyed and come to expect that they could attend things remotely.”

Exhibitions include Sunrise over Kansas: John Steuart Curry, featuring work of the Kansas regionalist painter, and Two by Two: Animal Pairs, which showcases pairs of the same animals through different art forms.

Three new exhibitions are set to unveil this month. The first two will open on Sept. 7 and feature the photography of civil rights activist Gordon Parks and Manhattan-native Doug Barrett. The two exhibitions are designed to coincide.

“There’s a really strong theme about artists using their voices to do good,” Kathrine Schlageck, associate curator of education, said.

The third exhibition — 45 Paleolithic Handaxes from Transfigurations: Reanimating the Past — is set to open on Sept. 21. This multimedia piece will showcase ancient artifacts using video and music.

Duke said that while the closure was difficult for the museum staff, it offered unique opportunities to study audience engagement on virtual exhibitions.

“We started seeing remote audiences from other countries and continents … and that was kind of a first,” Duke said.

During the pandemic, Duke said the staff learned how to engage with people through social media, including adjusting how they conduct live events.

“We are now making sure that they are either live-streamed or on Zoom, or that there is some way that we can include everybody,” Schlageck said.

Haley Wright, senior in art education and painting, said she is happy to have the museum back open for all of Manhattan to enjoy.

“I think the Beach is really cool because it’s really like a little bridge between the community and K-State,” Wright said.

One upcoming event for the museum is Family Day on Sept. 18, where they will give away copies of a children’s book about Gordon Parks. Another event is the museum’s virtual 25th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 14.

The museum also hosts a bi-monthly virtual film series called the Beach Film Club, which started this past year.

“It’s a curated selection of films that you can watch ahead of time,” Schlageck said. “So your Zoom session is really just a discussion.”

More information about the exhibits and a complete list of this year’s events is available on the museum website.