Arts & Culture

Wichita Art Museum gearing up for its annual birthday bash

Each year, the Wichita Art Museum throws a party – a free event with ice cream, toppings and entertainment. More than 900 partygoers showed up at last year’s event.

“The summer gathering absolutely makes my heart sing,” said Patricia McDonnell, the museum’s director. “It’s a wonderful, feel-good event.”

The museum started this event in 2010 during its 75th birthday celebration. This year, the Wichita River Festival Wagonmasters will serve free vanilla ice cream with chocolate, candy and nut toppings provided by Hiland Dairy and the Nifty Nut House.

McDonnell believes the museum should serve the community, and what better way to do so than to have a party that is open to all ages, she said.

“It’s a big, fun family birthday bash for the citizens of Wichita, who own the museum,” said Libby Merritt, longtime museum volunteer who is co-chairing the event with Scott Hampel. “It’s such sweetness.”

Wichita-based Pop and the Boys will perform during the celebration. They’ll entertain with banjos, guitars and an accordion as they sing their bluegrass-style lyrics.

“Children love to dance to the music,” Merritt said. “Especially while eating ice cream.”

The event will take place in the Grand Hall under the Dale Chihuly confetti chandelier. The large glass sculpture is around the corner from the Persian Seafoam Ceiling, also created by renowned Seattle-based artist Chihuly. The 1,500-pound ceiling was cleaned and rehung earlier this year. The sculpture can be walked on as well as viewed from below. This piece is just one of the museum’s more than 7,000 works of art in its permanent collection.

“At the birthday bash, we see so many enjoying the art,” McDonnell said. “The ice cream at the event is icing on the proverbial cake.”

Children are encouraged to draw and be creative. During the birthday party, everyone will be able to walk through the Wichita-based quilt room, the “Prints and Printmakers Exhibit,” the ongoing American Impressionists gallery, which includes Mary Cassatt’s “Mother and Child,” and the touring portrait exhibit.

“We want Wichitans to consider WAM their community living room,” McDonnell said. “This gathering gives tangible proof that people do.”