The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art’s permanent collection contains over 7,000 objects and emphasizes the art of Kansas and the surrounding region. The museum collects historical through contemporary work in all media. The collection forms the basis of the museum’s activities as a center for the study and research of the visual art of Kansas and the region.
In January 1928 K-State dedicated the Farrell Library (now Hale Library). This new building featured a “fine well lighted art gallery” displaying a temporary exhibition of over 100 paintings and prints by Birger Sandzén, the Swedish-born painter and professor of art at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. The following month students, faculty, and the Manhattan community organized a successful fund raising campaign to acquire two of Sandzén’s large oil paintings. These became the first objects in the K-State art collection.
In 1934 the K-State Friends of Art formed as an outgrowth of an art lecture series sponsored by the local branch of the American Association of University Women. Now known as the Friends of the Beach Museum of Art, the group was established to raise funds for the acquisition and care of work in the permanent collection. The Friends has been responsible for many notable acquisitions and continues to support the museum’s collection through annual fund raising events and membership.