The mission of the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University is to provide members of the Washburn community and Topeka residents and visitors a museum where they can learn to think independentally and critically about art, appreciate art as a vehicle for communicating human values, and value the diversity of human creativity.
Joab R. Mulvane, 1837-1929, came to Kansas in 1876 and distinguished himself as one of the most successful Kansan's of his generation. The breadth of his interests has shaped Kansas and beyond especially in shipping logistics given the strategic advantage of Kansas as a single point distribution hub for North America. He was president of at least nine railroads and presided over the Chicago, Kansas and Western Railway Company, as its President, when it built over 900 miles of rail lines for the Santa Fe. In 1922 Mulvane pledged a gift to build the Mulvane Art Museum and the building opened to the public in 1924. In 1946, through the encouragement of Alexander Tillotson, Director of the Washburn Art Department, the Topeka Junior League spreaheaded the formation of a group now known as the Friends of the Mulvane Art Museum.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1988, the Mulvane Art Museum, one of the oldest art museums west of the Mississippi, houses a collection of approximately 4,000 objects from around the world including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, photographs and decorative art. While international in scope, the Museum's collection focuses on the works of artists from Kansas and the Mountain Plains region of the Unitied States. In addition to exhibiting works from the collection the Museum also presents changing exhibitons featuring artists from around the world.