One-year anniversary of WAM's reaction to a global pandemic

Exterior of WAM's entrance showing five trees, the brick circle drive and native grasses in the foreground

The Lattner and Walker Family Plaza at the Wichita Art Museum – Photo by Larry Schwarm

Wednesday, March 17, marks the one-year anniversary of the Wichita Art Museum’s (WAM) response to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in an unprecedented three-month shutdown period and a new focus on virtual, online offerings to engage with the Wichita community during the lockdown. To recognize this anniversary and to thank the community for their support during this past year, admission to WAM on Wednesday is free to everyone.

“We want to thank Wichitans, especially WAM members, patrons, and donors, for their support of and commitment to the museum even in the midst of a global pandemic,” said WAM Director Dr. Patricia McDonnell. “We navigated those first few weeks, which turned into months, focused on our passion for serving members of the community. That forced us, when our doors were closed, to be creative in our digital content. It was a whole new world for everyone when our doors finally reopened, and we needed to
prioritize the safety of visitors and staff.”

What has WAM accomplished during the past year?

  • Renovation of the Boeing Foyer (including the museum’s main entrance), the S. Jim and Darla Farha Great, and a complete transformation of the Living Room, WAM’s interactive gallery
  • Redesigning the museum’s website (
  • Pivoting from in-person to virtual events
  • Expanding online content to include downloadable WAM for Kids activities & materials for teachers and educators
  • Creating a new Visitor Code of Conduct emphasizing COVID-19 protocols

The organization Culture Track produced a 2020 study on the impact of COVID-19 for arts and culture. They asked “what qualities will you be looking for most” when you step back into the world again? Overall, the study concluded: “respondents seek a variety of qualities from different cultural experiences, but activities that are fun, lighthearted, and beautiful appeal most.” WAM is perfectly poised to meet that need with Foot in the Door: Wichita Artists Make Their Mark. 570 local artists contributed 12-by-12-inch artworks for this celebration of our city. The galleries are a whirlwind of images and ideas, reflecting the spark and talent in Wichita. “Inviting artists who call Wichita home during the wild pandemic year has been a love letter to local creatives,” said McDonnell. “Visitors have been wowed.”

Dr. McDonnell is available for media interviews. COVID-19 protocols remain in place at the museum, including requiring facial masks for visitors, including those who have been vaccinated for the virus, and maintaining social distance between visitors who are not from the same household.