Where the art is stored at Your Library

Your library is home to over 5,000 works of art from paintings and prints, to glass and ceramic wonders. We are also home to a small ethnographic collection of African art and textiles as well as a unique collection of Chinese decorative arts. Here at the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery we are constantly asked where we keep all of the Library’s art collection, well this week I want to give you a peek into Special Collection Storage in the basement of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

The Library has a climate controlled “vault” in which we keep all of our wonderful works of art.  This large room is filled with move-able metal racks for paintings, flat file drawers to house works on paper (watercolors, prints, drawings, photographs) and large move-able shelving units that hold the ceramic, glass and other three-dimensional works. We even have special drawers that house the paperweight collection. The space is climate controlled because art, just like people, needs to be comfortable. Too cold and they can become brittle, too hot and they might start to buckle and bend.

While the objects are stored in the basement and are out of sight, they are never far from our minds. Currently the Sabatini Gallery staff is working to digitize and catalog the complete art collection so that you can browse whenever you need an “art fix”. Until then, you can see wonderful examples of the Library’s vast art collection everywhere.

Here are a few pieces you might want to look for next time you are in the library:

1) Reference Room (look up!)
Stan Herd
Kansas: 4 Directions from Topeka
Oil on canvas

2) East wing (look up!)
Jim Bass
Windmill (mobile), 1957
Steel, aluminum, rocks

3) West wing (look up!)
Jim Bass
Wheat (mobile), 1957
Aluminum, steel, brass

4) Entryway of the North Reading Room
Vernon Brechja
Blown glass

5) North Reading Room (west wall)
Birger Sandzen
Nils Gustof’s House, 1938

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.