Spooner Hall was built in 1893-94 as the University of Kansas' first library. The money for its construction came from William Spooner, who wanted to construct the university's first purpose-built library and also a new chancellor's home for his nephew Francis H. Snow, who served as chancellor from 1890-1901 (Francis was his niece's husband). Spooner Hall was designed by Henry Van Brunt in the Romanesque Revival style and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Today, the building houses anthropology department's collections.
By 1920 the building became overcrowded and plans for a new library were developed. In 1924, a new library was built. Two years later, Spooner Hall became the Spooner-Thayer Museum of Art, housing the newly acquired collection of Sallie Casey Thayer. Later renamed the University of Kansas Museum of Art, the collection moved into the Spencer Museum of Art in 1978. Then, from 1979 to 2002, the building served as the KU Museum of Anthropology.