LINDSBORG — The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery has shared the art of one of the Smoky Valley's most notable residents for more than half a century.

The gallery opened in 1957 to honor Sandzén's dedication to the arts.

"This includes exhibiting his artwork as well as enhancing appreciation and exposure to artists and works from its permanent collection," said Ron Michael, director of the gallery. "Additionally, historically significant and contemporary artwork is shown and the gallery is committed to supporting cultural activities that enhance the region and develop a greater appreciation for the arts."

In recognition of its 60th anniversary, the gallery will host a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 22 at the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, 401 N. First St. in Lindsborg, on the southern edge of Bethany College campus.

The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery is dedicated to sharing the arts with the world through the life and vision of Swedish-American painter, printmaker and educator Birger Sandzén.

"In 1894, Sandzén arrived in Lindsborg to teach at Bethany College and remained a resident for the rest of his life," Michael explained. "He passed away in 1954."

The idea for the gallery was initially launched in 1955 after the incorporation of the Birger Sandzén Memorial Foundation. Its primary purpose was to construct an art gallery on the Bethany College campus, where Sandzén had served on the faculty for over 50 years.

Construction began in 1956 and the gallery was dedicated on Oct. 20, 1957.

Incorporators of the foundation were Sandzén's daughter, Margaret; his son-in-law, Charles Pelham Greenough, III.; and W. D. P. Carey of Hutchinson. Serving with them on the initial board of directors were Bethany president Robert Mortvedt, John F. Hayes, William H. Taylor, Sr., and Ray V. Stapp.

The gallery was made possible through a donation made by the Greenoughs, as well as numerous gifts from donors.

The gallery officially opened to the public on Nov. 12, 1957, with the first exhibition being an overview of Sandzén's art. Today, the gallery carries out the foundation's purpose of "sharing the arts with the world through the life and vision of Birger Sandzén."

The foundation works to enhance appreciation and exposure to artists and works in its permanent collection, as well as exhibit historically significant and contemporary artists. It's also committed to supporting cultural activities that enhance the region and develop a greater appreciation for the arts.

The celebration includes a reception with cookies and refreshments from 2 to 4 p.m. At 2:30, the staff will give a presentation, which will include the history of the gallery and images from past years. The gallery has held a celebration each decade since their opening in 1957.

For more information, contact the gallery at 785-227-2220 or visit their website at http://sandzen.org/.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.