Birger Sandzen was born in Sweden in 1871. As a young man he emigrated to the United States where he established himself as an artist and teacher. For over fifty-two years he taught art at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Sandzen always wanted to open a large art gallery in Kansas. After his death in 1954 his daughter, Margaret Sandzen and her husband, Charles Pelham Greenough, funded the building of the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery. Opened in 1957, as well as exhibiting the work of Sandzen it holds music concerts, poetry readings and art talks.