Donation of $1 million to preserve university’s outdoor art collection


Manny De Los Santos

The Reclining Figure (Hand) created by Henry Moore was built in 1979 and is located outside of the Ablah Library.

Wichita State recently a gift of more than $1 million for Wichita State’s outdoor art collection.

Joan Beren, a longtime supporter of WSU arts, athletics and student aid, donated the gift to start the Joan S. Beren outdoor sculpture fund.

Beren died in January, according to a news release from the university.

The gift provides resources for cleaning and maintenance of the 76 outdoor works spread through the WSU main campus.

The announcement of the gift was made at a recent event held to celebrate the reinstallation of the Joan Miró mural “Personnages Oiseaux” (Bird People), the news release stated. The work had undergone a five-year, $2.2 million conservation and restoration project, largely paid for through private donations.

“Our mother was an ardent admirer of the outdoor sculpture collection,” said Adam Beren, one of Beren’s children, in a statement. “It was important to her to see it maintained at a level equal to its prominence so that students and visitors to campus could enjoy it for many years to come.”

Bob Workman, director of the Ulrich Museum of Art, said in a statement Beren had the wisdom and foresight to recognize that works of art require maintenance.

“It takes extraordinary people to generously commit resources to the care of our cultural assets,” Workman said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful and honored to be the recipient of Joan Beren’s legacy.”

The news release stated Beren served two terms on the WSU Board of Trustees, including one as its chairwoman. She also served on the WSU Foundation Advisory Council and the advisory boards for the Ulrich Museum and the College of Fine Arts.

“Joan was proud of Wichita State for many reasons, but she especially treasured its magnificent art collection,” said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU foundation in a statement. “This gift to help preserve the quality and integrity of our outdoor sculptures is one that came from her heart and soul.”