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Wichita Art Museum birthday party draws a big crowd

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, July 10, 2011, at 5:40 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, July 10, 2011, at 10:12 p.m.

Many birthday parties have ice cream on the menu.

But this one also had music and tiny cupcakes and cookies and paint and places to get your photo taken and all kinds of pretty pictures to see.

No wonder the Wichita Art Museum's birthday party on Sunday seemed packed to the rafters.

"We're out of ice cream," Braden McCurdy of the Wichita Wagonmasters told one youngster little more than a half-hour after the party started. "But come back a little later. We've gone out to get more."

Organizers were expecting about 500 people to come to the party marking the museum's 76th birthday, but that figure was reached after less than an hour.

"It may just be that people were looking for a cool spot and a bowl of ice cream on a hot day," said Jeff Kennedy, chairman of the museum's board of trustees. "But considering the crowds we've been getting on Final Fridays, I think it's more than that."

Sandy Sipp's three young children love coming to the museum for art classes, so she wasn't surprised that they wanted to come to the birthday party Sunday.

But she was still amazed by their reaction to the festivities.

"They're not normally this quiet for this long," Sipp said of Ella, 6, and her 3-year-old twins, Titus and Wyatt, who were attacking bowls of ice cream and watching a steel drum band perform with contented smiles. "They're enthralled with the music."

When Pam Loyle asked her grandsons what they wanted to do Sunday, 7-year-old Luke Hampl pleaded to come to the museum.

Not just for the ice cream, .she said. He wanted to see the art, too.

"I like it!" he pronounced after studying Grace Hartigan's 1957 painting "East River Drive." "It's got lots and lots of layers."

Michael Johnson sounded like a proud creator after he had finished a round of "drip painting" on black panels in the lower level of the museum.

The panels, a compilation of the paint drippings done by children who came to the birthday party, will be placed on display in the museum.

"I'm an artist!" he proclaimed.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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