Friends of Wichita Art Museum hosts weekend book sale, community performances fundraiser



One of St. Anthony’s Lion Dance performers checks out what a customer is reading during the WAM Book Sal.e. The St. Anthony team was one of many artistic groups invited to perform at the sale.

Book lovers and art enthusiasts gathered at the Wichita Art Museum (WAM) from Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 7 to shop, mingle and view artistic and cultural performances as part of the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum’s annual book sale. 

Thousands of books of 37 different genres were available for visitors, with prices ranging from 50 cents to $5 apiece. The sale served as a fundraiser to help equip the museum with new art pieces and the ability to host additional programs and activities.

The Friends of the Wichita Art Museum is a local organization dedicated to providing WAM with the necessary financial resources to promote community participation in museum events and displays.

Board of Directors member D.J. Spaeth, a WSU employee in the education department, along with other Friends of WAM and ‘Bookies’ book club volunteers, spent hours collecting donated books and sorting and pricing them before putting them up for sale. 

“It takes a lot of power to do this,” Spaeth said. “But we have a well-oiled machine–we have 50 people on our board, and they’ll work more than one shift for these three days.”

The books are typically received through private donations or local book drops scattered throughout Wichita. Spaeth hopes that by supplying the Wichita community with affordable books at the art museum, she can encourage hesitant community members to visit the museum and enjoy all it has to offer.

“We want this to be a place where people are all the time and aren’t uncomfortable. (We) don’t want them to feel intimidated by the art,” Spaeth said. “Coming to an art museum is not a math class — here, when you look at it (art), there’s no right answer. It’s what(ever) you think.”

The three-day sale featured dozens of local performance groups, including St. Anthony’s Lion & Dragon Dance Team, the Sweet Adelines vocal group and guest speakers, like ceramic artist Sharif Bey. For shoppers like Annie Hayes, an avid thrifter and book-lover, the sale perfectly merged her interests while bringing new guests to the museum.

“(The sale) brings a lot of people together, and it’s a great fundraiser for the art museum to keep it going and bring more people out — the people that wouldn’t normally come to the art museum or see these types of performances,” Hayes said.

By Saturday afternoon, the Friends of WAM raised more than $3,500 according to Spaeth, all of which went directly to the museum. The books not sold are to be evaluated by the volunteers before being stored away for future sales or donated to inner-city schools or half-priced bookstores. Every three months, the group hosts smaller book sales for specific genres. 

For Spaeth, events like this go beyond supporting the museum – they create new, lasting connections and memories for visitors and remind them of what a good book can do.

“Yesterday, a grandpa was in the other room reading to his two grandkids on the floor. As a reader myself, it just warms my heart,” Spaeth said. “This is such a vibrant place, and I want to … make sure people still appreciate a book.”