The Spencer Museum of Art’s recently acquired “Wall Drawing 519” by Sol LeWitt was reinstalled in Capitol Federal Hall, home to the University of Kansas School of Business. (Image courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas)

Art in business school’s new home accentuates innovative design

Business schools typically aren’t known for their art collections.

That’s what makes the new home of the University of Kansas School of Business unique.

Thanks to a gift to support art in the new building, more than 70 works adorn the hallways and public spaces throughout Capitol Federal Hall, accentuating the building’s innovative and collaborative design.

“We feel honored and grateful to be able to feature so many pieces of art in our new home,” said Interim Dean James Guthrie. “The artwork contributes to the sense of energy in Capitol Federal Hall, and it provides points of inspiration throughout the building.”

The business school formed an art committee in the year leading up to the May 2016 opening of the building to guide the process of selecting art.

Committee members include Emprise Bank chairman, alumnus and dean’s advisory board member Mike Michaelis, committee chair; former dean of the School of Architecture, Design & Planning John Gaunt, co-chair; Lawrence artist Diane Guthrie, co-chair; Spencer Museum of Art Director Saralyn Reece Hardy; founding member of Extol Capital Strategies LLC, alumnus and dean’s advisory board member Jim Majerle; and Interim Dean James Guthrie, ex-officio. The business school’s former chief of staff Kelly Watson Muther also served as an ex-officio member for the 2015–16 academic year.

The committee’s mission has been to showcase works with a Kansas tie. Though the pieces vary by medium and style, each artwork has been created by an artist who is from Kansas or who has a connection to the state or KU. Many works were created by alumni, faculty or faculty emeriti of KU.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Neeli Bendapudi, who formerly served as dean of the business school, viewed the inclusion of art in the new building as a reminder to students that there is room for great creativity in business.

Guided by that view, the collection in Capitol Federal Hall serves three main purposes: to enhance the culture of the KU School of Business by providing an environment for thought-provoking art alongside great architecture; to portray the school’s values through careful curation of materials that embrace the school’s mission; and to celebrate the heartland while embracing the global aspirations of the school.

In addition to the building’s architectural features, Guthrie said the artwork is another draw for students of all disciplines to visit the building.

Work by LeWitt on view

One of the most prominent pieces in the building is the Spencer Museum of Art’s “Wall Drawing 519” by Sol LeWitt, which faces Capitol Federal Hall’s central atrium and can be seen from Naismith Drive. The installation previously was on view at the Spencer Museum before the building closed for renovation in spring of 2015.

LeWitt, who was a leading figure in minimalist and conceptual art, created a set of instructions or a diagrams for his wall drawings that assistants could follow to install directly onto a wall, giving his work an unlimited lifespan.

It took a team led by a representative of the LeWitt Estate more than two weeks to install ‘Wall Drawing 519.”

It took a team led by a representative of the LeWitt Estate more than two weeks to install “Wall Drawing 519.”

“The presence of the LeWitt wall drawing at the innovative new School of Business exemplifies our dedication to extending the museum’s collections and programs beyond our walls,” said Spencer Museum Director Saralyn Reece Hardy. “The conceptual nature of LeWitt’s wall drawing, which shifts and transforms according to its location, makes it an ideal work to share with our KU partners.”

Artists’ work in the building

Some of the many artists whose work is on display in Capitol Federal Hall include:

  • Roger Shimomura, KU distinguished professor of art, emeritus;
  • Janet Davidson-Hues, who received a Master of Fine Arts from KU;
  • Terry Evans, a Kansas City native who graduated from KU in 1968 and received an honorary Doctor of Arts from KU in 2016;
  • John Bukaty, a former KU football player who graduated in 1997.

More than 30 artists’ works are featured in the building, and the committee will continue to select more pieces.

More about Capitol Federal Hall

The public can view the collection of artwork in Capitol Federal Hall, located at 1654 Naismith Drive, during the building’s hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.

The four-story, 166,500-square-foot building houses 20 classrooms, 205 offices, a 350-seat auditorium, and labs and spaces designed for flexible, student-centered learning and collaboration. It is the largest facility at KU to be funded through private support.


This story appears in the 2016 Q3 edition of the Lawrence Business Magazine.


Learn more about “Wall Drawing 519” by Sol LeWitt and its installation at Capitol Federal Hall.