Wichita’s Contemporary Art Galleries You Should Visit

East Douglas Avenue in historic downtown Wichita, Kansas, USA
East Douglas Avenue in historic downtown Wichita, Kansas, USA | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Melissa RJ Mills

Wichita is a city that is not only known for its warm hospitality and rich history but also for its vibrant and thriving art scene. Located in the heart of the American Midwest, in Kansas, Wichita boasts a dynamic and diverse artistic community that embraces creativity in all its forms. In addition to high-quality public museums, there are several independent galleries that showcase local artists and events such as the Final Friday Art Crawl that help boost the city’s art scene. Here are some of our favourite contemporary art museums and galleries in Wichita.

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Fisch Haus

occupies a warehouse space in Wichita’s Commerce Street Art District and is a non-profit, artist cooperative, home to several working artists, a studio and exhibition space. The gallery has enjoyed great popularity and respect on the local art scene, and continues to operate since 1990, organising innovative and thought-provoking shows. Some of the artists represented by Fisch Haus include Patrick Duegaw, known for his rebellious style of painting, Elizabeth Jane Stevenson whose work sits on the boundary between architecture and art, as well as Kent Williams, Eric Schmidt and Jamie Tabor. In addition to exhibitions and other exciting art projects, Fisch Haus’s calendar features a number of special community events such as 1st Tuesday Talks led by the local organisation Creative Rush which allows artists, art professionals and the public to mingle and exchange ideas.

Shift Space Gallery

girl the gallery in front of the artwork

Showcasing the best of student art from WSU’s Art and Design department, Shift Space is a surprisingly ambitious art space with a busy programme of events and shows. Liberal and progressive, it has hosted the emotive and layered drawings of promising artist Beth Post, fashion shows that blurred the line between sculpture and clothing, and numerous group shows that brought together disparate media to create an unexpected sense of symmetry. Currently located in the Commerce Street Art District, Shift Space is a fantastic place to get acquainted with Wichita’s burgeoning arts community and discover new, local talent.

Bob Schwan Studio

Bob Schwan is a local artist recognised for his intense use of colour, a vibrant palette and an almost naïve, charming quality to his paintings. While the studio is home to many of his canvases, Bob also invites other artists to showcase their work there, including Christopher Gulick, a sculptor and installation artist whose interests revolve around kinetics and architecture, and who explores matter’s interaction with empty space. Bob Schwan Studio regularly participates in Wichita’s Final Fridays.

Ulrich Museum

Part of Wichita State University, the Ulrich Museum was founded in 1974, which makes it one of the longest-running art spaces in the city. Named after Edwin A. Ulrich, who donated over 300 items to the museum, the institution is now one of the most respected art and culture venues in Kansas, with works by a range of American and international artists on display. The permanent collection houses the works of such big names as Diane Arbus, Sol LeWitt, Joan Miro and Emil Nolde, while the temporary exhibitions zoom in on fascinating themes: from grocery aisle-inspired art to installations emphasizing the importance of natural resources. A big part of the collection can be found in the outdoor sculpture park, which is the setting for almost 80 beautiful works from a range of sculptors.

Midwest Center for Photography

Founded in 2008 in the Douglas Design District of Wichita, the Midwest Center for Photography is a young and passionate art space dedicated wholly to the medium of photography. In addition to showcasing established artists, the gallery also actively seeks out emerging talent, offering grants and shows to some of the most promising young photographers in the area. Among the photographers represented by the Center at the moment are Katharyn Addcox, whose portraits of daily life and work carry a sense of nostalgia about them, and Christoper Capozziello, whose black and white photography is as haunting as it is captivating. The gallery’s founder, Linda K. Robinson, also regularly exhibits her own work, which demonstrates an eye for detail and a good grasp on colour.

Harvester Arts

At a gallery

One of the youngest additions to Wichita’s art scene, Harvester Arts was launched at the end of February 2014, supported by funds from Fractured Atlas, a nation-wide organisation that supports artists and culture-related projects. Kate Van Steenhuyse, a local artist in charge of the new gallery, aims to organise thought-provoking exhibitions that provoke a cultural dialogue among the residents of the city and beyond. Harvester Arts is a long-awaited and welcome guest to Wichita, and will hopefully help expand the city’s artistic community.

Wichita Art Museum

The Wichita Art Museum is the city’s prime destination for art lovers wanting to experience the creations of local, as well as international artists. Although most of the permanent collection focuses on modern, rather than contemporary art, the museum does welcome newer work too. A recent exhibition, titled Vital Signs: New Media Art from the San Jose Museum of Art, presented artists such as Bill Viola and Jennifer Steinkamp, whose practice revolves around technology and digital creation. In addition to this, the institution also hosts art talks and workshops, and is home to a charming little café.

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