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A Thousand Words

Mulvane Art Museum acquires new photography collection for Washburn

Photo of Ali boxing

(The 1968 Walter Ioos photograph, “Ali vs Ernie Terrell, Houston Astrobome, 2/6/67,” captured the iconic boxer, Muhammad Ali.)

From The Ichabod - Fall 2022
Story by Brooke Donaldson

The Mulvane Art Museum recently added new photography works to its permanent collection that are expected to inspire collaboration across academic disciplines on campus. This stunning collection includes over 600 photographs from 10 photographers of note and is valued at more than $2 million.

The museum’s director, Connie Gibbons, was approached by Summit Art Advisory, a company that represents collectors who are looking for museums to donate their collections. Documents upon documents of photographs were sent to Gibbons and her team, who spent the next couple of weeks sifting through them and selecting photographs for the museum’s collection. Gibbons and her team worked to identify images that would be academically beneficial and inspiring to faculty, students and alumni.

“This collection, as a series, is important in terms of education on campus, engaging faculty and students and inspiring curatorial narratives,” Gibbons said. “They have so much potential in so many disciplines.”

The pieces touch on subjects such as history, art, literature, sociology, anthropology and more, making them accessible to many different departments on campus.

Photo of 9-11 memorial

(“Freedom Lights, Greenwich and Harrison Street, 9/11/06,” by Donna Ferrato shows the memorial lights rising up from ground zero of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York City.)

“Having this collection become part of the Mulvane is so exciting because it can be a catalyst for collaboration across the University,” said Laura Stephenson, dean, Washburn University College of Arts and Sciences.

Some photographs have already been integrated into existing exhibits, acting as a preview for what is to come. However, adding these photos into exhibits is not the only way the Mulvane is showing off their new acquisition.

As they continue to receive photographs, Gibbons and her team are working to add those images to their website in hopes they can invite faculty, students and alumni to curate exhibits based off a theme or specific artist.

“The real value is in engaging the campus,” Gibbons said. “I am hopeful these photographs can serve as resources in and out of the classroom.”

The Mulvane’s online presence has increased greatly in the past year. This includes video demonstrations of how to create certain styles of artwork, short presentations about various artists and the ability to access and research all images in the museum’s permanent collections.

“Part of our goal is to make our collection accessible online so people have a greater opportunity to see what we have,” Gibbons said.

The Mulvane acquires collections in a variety of ways, including direct donations of works or raising money to acquire large collections.

“We are often looking for connections to our community or region when we select pieces,” Gibbons said. “Other times, we are looking to add works about current social and political climates, or simply, works that tell stories. With our new photography collection, we get a little bit of everything.”

The images Gibbons selected for this collection are of a wide variety, ranging from emotional, detailed photographs of harsh realities to colorfully depicted photographs of sports figures.

“One thing I love about this collection is that these photos show so much personality and humanity of the people who are captured,” Stephenson said. “You are able to see common and uncommon experiences, while some images even act as little mysteries – leaving anyone who sees them wanting to learn more.”

Gibbons and her team at the Mulvane have worked hard to add collections and create exhibits that explore important topics such as social justice, highlight different cultures and ethnicities and feature the history of Kansas.

“I have the utmost respect for Connie, as she has done an amazing job expanding the scope of the collections at the museum,” Stephenson said.

Gibbons has strived to create opportunities to collaborate and share the works at the Mulvane with the rest of campus and the community. Under Gibbons’ leadership, a new academic minor was added in museum and curatorial studies last year.

“Connie has been instrumental in creating faculty and interdisciplinary collaboration across campus,” Stephenson said. “She has always found new ways to get the art at the Mulvane in different areas on campus and engage students and faculty. I could not be more proud or thankful for all the work she has done for the University.”

The 1979 Walter Ioos photograph, “Tony Scott and Garry Templeton, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA,” shows two baseball players relaxed in their dugout.

(The 1979 Walter Ioos photograph, “Tony Scott and Garry Templeton, Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA,” shows two baseball players relaxed in their dugout.)

The Ichabod Magazine Winter 2022 cover - Memorial Union with snow, pine needles in the foreground

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. View the current and past editions


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