Private Funding Expands Art Gallery Space & Technology

Marvel at Alice C. Sabatini Gallery Improvements

The Alice C. Sabatini Gallery has been a hidden gem at the library. Despite a prominent location just off the entry, many visitors were unaware the library has an art gallery due to a lack of visibility from the rotunda. Now is your chance to see the library’s fabulous art gallery and its improvements! You can see art and creativity through the large windows at the front of the gallery. The Reed Studio was created from a reconfiguration of the former gallery space, which added 500 square feet for active art-making experiences for all ages. Updated lighting, digital and audio equipment improvements expand exhibit possibilities.

The Library Foundation funded the update through two private gifts and a grant. “The Library Foundation helps us be a library of distinction,” said CEO Gina Millsap. “We use gifts from community members who love our library to expand technology, improve the function of library spaces, and inspire creativity and curiosity.”

Gift of a New Creative Space

Jerry Reed made a significant gift to name a unique space in the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. The Jerry and Judy Reed Studio, named after him and his late wife Judy, will be focused on art creation, including the potential for multi-day projects and artists-in-residence opportunities where local artists can demonstrate their craft and teach classes. Jerry has volunteered in the gallery since 2002!

“The gallery is a wonderful space and these renovations have made it more interactive and attractive,” said Jerry Reed. “My family and I look forward to seeing how our community uses this space to bring art to life.”

Jerry took advantage of his former employer’s, (Phillips Petroleum, now ConocoPhillips) matching gift programs to enhance his contributions. The library has certainly benefited. Jerry said he encourages all donors of the library to check with the company they work for or have retired from to see if they might have a similar program. We are grateful to Jerry and ConocoPhillips for their long-standing support of the Sabatini Gallery at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library!

History of Art at the Library

The Alice C. Sabatini Gallery is home to Topeka’s oldest public art collection. In 1901 library board member Edward Wilder started the collection by purchasing Art Nouveau glass and ceramics for the library while on a tour of Europe. Since then The Library Foundation and The Friends of the Library have expanded the collection. It now includes regional paintings and prints, American contemporary ceramics, glass paperweights, West African decorative arts, southwest reliquary woodcarvings and 19th-century Chinese decorative arts. Some of our most popular annual shows are the Topeka Competition, the Printed Image (a contemporary prints exhibit) and the children’s art exhibit.

In 2002, the gallery was renamed the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery after a generous gift from the Sabatini Family Foundation. The gallery’s name honors the memory of local artist, educator, designer and philanthropist Alice C. Sabatini.

Story Worlds: Art Exhibit for Children

This year the COVID-19 pandemic inspired the gallery staff to convert the planned physical exhibit to a virtual exhibit, which opened online in May. You can now visit the Story Worlds exhibit in-person! Create in the new Reed Studio and take part in quests tied to art in the library’s collection. You’ll create a storybook, mad libs, arts and craft projects, and a story about your own adventure.

In Story Worlds you’ll learn new art skills, stretch your funny bone with silliness, and discover that you’re an awesome storyteller. You can take part in the following four quests:

  1. visit a world under the ocean,
  2. fight a dragon to save a castle,
  3. brave a mountain full of lava and
  4. avoid blackholes in the middle of a city!

The Sabatini Family Foundation supports the Annual Art Exhibit for Children to encourage kids’ involvement in art. While art experiences develop creative skills, its relationship to reading is proven to improve kids’ brain development and language skills.

Zan Popp

Hello, I'm your friendly neighborhood Curator of Exhibitions. I have the amazing job of creating, building and presenting wonderful art exhibits for you at the library's Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery.