Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


Claimed: Land Use in Western America
  • Claimed: Land Use in Western America
  • 16-Jun-2007 - 12-Aug-2007
  • South Balcony, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

This selection of photographs, prints, and drawings from the Spencer’s permanent collection documents aspects of westward expansion and development as it emphasizes the notion that we treat nature as a commodity. The exhibition draws inspiration from the teaching and scholarship of Professor Donald Worster, Joyce & Elizabeth Hall Professor of U.S. History at the University of Kansas.

One theme that drives the exhibition and is integral to Worster’s research is the notion that American environmental history can best be understood as a function of political and economic culture. Natural resources are identified and exploited through diverse practices: mining, irrigation, cultivation, excavation. The marks we make upon the land take many forms: offices, reservoirs, parking lots, furrows, fences. These marks reveal the challenges, failures, and aspirations of a destiny made manifest in the land west of the Mississippi.