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Gift creates new study center at KU’s Spencer Museum of Art

January 28, 2020

A $900,000 gift from the J.K. and Ingrid Lee Foundation will create a study center at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas that will improve access to works of art from the Spencer’s collection for students and researchers.

The late J.K. Lee, a native of Hong Kong, was associate chair and professor in KU’s Department of Chemistry from 1956 to 1980 and a longtime supporter of the university. He and his wife, Ingrid, lived in Lawrence, Kansas, for many years. Ingrid Lee continues to support KU through the family’s foundations.

The Ingrid and J.K. Lee Study Center will be a hybrid space for class and research visits as well as temporary installations. The center will provide space for displaying large objects and artwork.

Saralyn Reece Hardy, the Marilyn Stokstad Director of the Spencer Museum of Art, said the center distinguishes the Spencer Museum as a leader among university art museums. Its creation follows the Phase I renovation of the museum, completed in 2016, which transformed nearly 30,000 square feet of the building.

“The generous gift of the Lee Foundation will establish a new study center that will be the cornerstone of the museum’s Phase II renovation,” Reece Hardy said. “The Ingrid and J.K. Lee Study Center will grant students and scholars unprecedented access to our three-dimensional works of art for teaching and research.”

The Lee Study Center will be designed for sharing the museum’s rich collection of Asian art objects, in particular large-scale works like folding screens, hanging scrolls and textiles. Broad tables and deep display cases in the study center will support close viewing of these objects as well as many other works of art in the museum’s global and Indigenous collections.

The Lee Study Center also will allow the museum to accommodate more requests from classes and other groups than it can currently; the Spencer’s existing study center and learning center created during Phase I renovation are in high demand and are booked early each semester.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

Posted on
January 28, 2020
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Michelle Keller
Assistant Vice President, Communications & Donor Relations
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