History of the museum
Beach Museum of Art 15th AnniversaryFor many decades Kansas State University's art collection was housed in campus public spaces and offices. The focus was art from Kansas and the region. As part of the university's 1990Essential Edge campaign, K-State First Lady Ruth Ann Wefald led the efforts to raise private funds to build a 26,000 square foot museum on the southeast corner of campus. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, made possible with a generous lead gift from Ross and Marianna Beach of Hays, Kansas, opened in the fall of 1996. Mr. Beach named the museum in honor of his wife in celebration of the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. Arthur Andersson of Moore/Andersson Architects (now Andersson•Wise Architects), Austin, Texas, designed the museum. Andersson’s 1996 building had five galleries, two art storage spaces, an auditorium, classroom, offices, and workspaces. An adjacent parking lot was provided for museum visitors. Andersson created the building in a postmodern style that is sensitive to the campus’s historical limestone architecture and open green spaces.
The triple-fold growth of the art collection within the museum’s first five years, a desire to showcase the permanent art collections as well as offer an active temporary exhibition program, and the desire to expand the educational programs, prompted the university to initiate a private fundraising campaign for a building addition. Private fundraising began in 2001 as part of K-State’s Changing Lives campaign and Andersson•Wise Architects was hired to design the expansion. The Mary and Morgan Jarvis Wing of the Beach Museum of Art opened in October 2007. The new addition houses three additional exhibition galleries, three new art storage areas, and renovated and new office and work spaces.
The museum's collection had grown from less than 1,500 pieces of art when it opened in 1996 to over 7,000 objects. The collection continues to focus on art of Kansas and the region. In addition to free gallery displays and special exhibitions, the museum presents public programs and educational programs for audiences of all ages. Annual attendance exceeds 30,000 visitors, of which approximately 30% are students, 30% are University students, faculty, and staff, and 40% are general visitors. The museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums – now called the American Alliance of Museums – in April 2003.