The Regnier Center, located on the east side of the college, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The building holds the Continuing Education program, several large meeting rooms and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as classrooms and lab rooms.
Director of Continuing Education Debbie Rulo worked for the Computer Applications and Information Technology program when RC was built.
“When I think back, I think we needed more space at the time,” Rulo said. “[My department was] located over at West Park Center over off of 87th St. [Continuing Ed.] classes were all over the place on campus. We had a lot of off-site locations, using different high schools and things like that.”
The Continuing Ed. department has many programs, including Driver’s Education, Early Childhood, Mediation, as well as Life and Leisure courses. Since the department gets around 20,000 enrollments a year, RC still does not have enough room for each of these programs.
In addition to classes, RC also has many conference rooms used for meetings held by the college and local businesses.The building hosts over 100 companies every year, and in the past has held meetings for Honeywell, Cerner, and BNSF. Manager of Event Management Deb Knudtson stated 61,100 people came to 1,137 events in the college’s spaces last year, making 2016-2017 the busiest year yet.
When celebrity guests come to the college, a reception will usually be held in the atrium of the building.
“[Kansas Governor Sam Brownback] was here with Jeb Bush before the 2016 campaign, in 2014. Sheryl Crow was here to speak, there was a reception involving her,” Knudtson said. “Many times what we do, if there’s a big name artist in Yardley or Polsky, we’ll have the reception over here.”
Inside the atrium is Cafe Tempo, a fine restaurant serving options such as espresso, grilled cheese, and tuna salad. Located across the atrium is the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, which holds three permanent collection galleries, six changing galleries, and two other changing exhibition spaces.
Executive Director of the Nerman Museum Bruce Hartman stated that the Board of Trustees decided to start collecting local, contemporary art in 1980. In 1990, a gallery of art opened in the Carlsen Center.
“The collection went from about 50 works to over 1,700 over the years,” Hartman said. “I think that the quality of programming that we did in the former gallery of art, the collection that we were building, with the sculptures and everything on campus lent impetus to building the museum. That, of course, was sparked by Jerry Nerman back in like 2003 [or] 2002 calling me and saying ‘What do you think about an art museum on campus?’ and that launched everything.”
Practically all of the exhibits are curated by Hartman. Past exhibits have included a traveling collection by contemporary Native American painter Fritz Scholder, as well as an LED light exhibit done by artist Leo Villareal.
Hartman always decides what to put in the museum based on the work itself, but in doing so, has created a collection holding more art done by women than any in the area.
“We’ve always tried to collect and exhibit work that we thought was important work without respect for gender or ethnicity, etc.,” Hartman said. “But in doing that, we have one of the most progressive programs for not only showing women artists in the museum, but also the collection.”
A 10-year anniversary exhibit the Dazzling Decade will be displayed at the museum until September 17th. The exhibit following will be a sculptural exhibit called Ephemera, which will feature work done by former guard at the museum, Rana Detrixhe, who attended KCAI and went on to get a Master’s degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
The Nerman Museum is open on Tue, Fri, and Sat from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wed and Thu from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sun from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.