The Student Exhibition Center (SEC) at Missouri State University is a unique facility that is an integral part of campus life and also part of the artistic community of Springfield. The three-story Victorian house in which the SEC is located, is situated on Historic Walnut Street and has been designated as a Historic Landmark.
On July 7, 1986, the Springfield Historical Site Board presented the University with a plaque, which is now displayed in the lobby of the SEC. It reads:
838 East Walnut
Frank Massey, of Keet-Rountree Shoe Company, built this building in 1894. When built, it was one of the largest and most detailed houses in the area. Local business men purchased the house in 1903 for use as a women’s club. It was purchased by the Sorosis Club in 1940 and was purchased by SMSU in 1984.
The motivation to buy the Massey/Sorosis house was student-centered. Art and Design students who wanted to ensure adequate gallery space to exhibit their work conceived the idea for a student art gallery. They proposed the idea to the Wyrick Commission, a foundation that allows the Missouri State student body to designate projects that enrich student life. The student body approved the project and designated a portion of the Student Activity Fee to be used to provide financial support for operating expenses. The SEC is staffed by students, managed by a director, and supervised by administrators in the College of Arts and Letters.
In 2006, the SEC celebrated its 20th Anniversary with special events. During that year, the Board of Governors voted to change the name of the endowment fund in honor of Mark J. Hall, one of the original students to solicit support for the SEC. The fund is now The Mark J. Hall Endowment for the Student Exhibition Center. The Board formally paid "tribute to Hall by approving that a plaque be placed in the Center to honor his efforts." The plaque, which features Hall’s self portrait, was presented on behalf of the Board by Dr. Earle Doman, Dean of Students.
In honor of the occasion, Sarah Lampe, member of the State of Missouri House of Representatives, presented a plaque to the SEC. The plaque was a resolution passed by the House honoring the efforts of Mark Hall and his commitment to the SEC. The resolution also recognized the SEC's contributions to the artistic education of the University and the community.
Each semester, the Department of Art and Design holds its Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibitions at the SEC. Other shows have included the Foundations exhibit, photography, metals and jewelry, ceramics, painting and drawing, and sculpture. Interior Design students have held their senior shows at the SEC. Literary readings from the English department and exhibits by the theatre and dance department have also been included in the calendar of events. The marketing department and history department have also enjoyed exhibiting shows here. Additionally, the Office of the Provost frequently utilizes the SEC to showcase special exhibits highlighting the University's Public Affairs Mission.
The SEC was also instrumental in the formation of the First Friday Art Walk. This event is held the first Friday of each month throughout the year and was formed to promote art in the historic downtown district of Springfield. Private galleries, as well as local colleges and universities participate in this popular event, which features new art each month.