The Ulrich Museum of Art’s world-class Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection boasts 81 works spread across the 330-acre Wichita State University campus.
The Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art was established in 1974 to enhance and support Wichita State University's educational and service missions. Then-president Clark Ahlberg believed a superior university should be ever mindful of the thriving city surrounding it. In 1977, he articulated this belief: "We have an obligation to reach as many people as possible and to do it with the highest standards—in this case, the highest artistic standards—if we are to properly serve this urban area." Under the leadership of the Museum's first director, Dr. Martin H. Bush, in the first twenty years of its life, the Ulrich Museum became an integral part of university and community life.
The Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection established in 1972 is a unique and priceless collection recognized nationally for its world-class works of art. It is an integral part of the daily campus experience, creating a powerful and joyful place for WSU students, faculty, staff and the community. The 81-piece Outdoor Sculpture Collection, an extension of the Ulrich Museum of Art’s permanent collection, is a beloved source of immense and justified pride for the University, the City of Wichita, the State of Kansas, and the region. Defining the WSU campus with beauty and distinction, the collection features works by Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Fernando Botero, Andy Goldsworthy, Tom Otterness and many more. One of Wichita's most significant cultural attractions, the Outdoor Sculpture Collection is always free and always open.
It is important to mention that the Museum received WSU Student Government Association (SGA) funding support for the commission of 22 sculptures in the Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection between 1972 and 2008. Student Fee Funding has transformed our collection and the campus through sculpture commissions.
Click here for the latest Outdoor Sculpture Collection map.
The Ulrich Museum of Art is now partnering with the Smartify app to give you the most complete information possible about the Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection and all our exhibitions! Simply download Smartify to your phone, then use your phone camera to scan any of our artworks and access insightful content that will enrich your experience! Visit Smartify.org for more information.
On November 9, 2021, the Ulrich Museum installed the latest addition to its world-class Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection on the Wichita State University campus--and it's one that encourages you to interact with it.
The sculpture, Ernest and Ruth, by artist Hank Willis Thomas, is the 82nd piece in the Museum's outdoor sculpture collection, and its first by an African American sculptor. In the shape of a giant speech bubble, it also serves as a bench, which the artist chose because he wanted each person who sits within it to know they have something of value to add to the conversation happening around them.
The piece installed in front of the Ulrich is one of three benches in the series, all similarly named after the artist's grandparents, that will be placed on the WSU campus. The two other benches will be installed at a later date and will be located just off the main traffic area leading up to Woolsey Hall, the future home of WSU’s Barton School of Business.
Thomas’ sculptures are the first works by an African American artist in the Ulrich Museum’s outdoor sculpture collection, but they are not the first works of his represented in the museum’s permanent collection. His 2009 series of 20 paintings titled I Am a Man is a key work that the museum recently lent to Willis’ large-scale traveling mid-career retrospective. It was also featured recently in the Ulrich + Artists + You Community Billboard Project.
Visitors are encouraged to come by, sit within the speech bubble, and have their photo taken with this beautiful new sculpture. If you post your photos on social media, be sure to tag the museum (@ulrichmuseum) and use the hashtag #ulrichmuseum.