NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - Kauffman Museum, located on the Bethel College campus in North Newton, is currently hosting an exhibit entitled “K is for Kansas: Exploring Kansas from A to Z” August 18 through February 2, 2020. This award-winning exhibit, developed in 2004 by the museum’s exhibit team, leads visitors on an alphabetic journey across the Sunflower State, from Abilene to Z-Bar Ranch.

“K is for Kansas” is an exhibit/activity center that uses the letters of the alphabet to illustrate significant features of the natural and cultural history of Kansas. Composed of larger than life alphabet blocks that surround a big carpet map of Kansas, the exhibit seeks to heighten interest in and awareness and understanding of the unique people, places, animals and objects of Kansas.

Each block presents one key word and six supplementary words. Each key word and its importance to Kansas are represented on the alphabet block in various ways, from maps of Kansas trails, to a model of a combine, a hands-on ornate box turtle, to a  real Vornado fan invented in Kansas, a prairie chicken taxidermy specimen, to a historic photograph of Amelia Earhart. Large, fabric photo murals hung around the exhibit will provide dramatic views of Kansas that cannot be captured in the alphabet blocks--rolling prairie hills, a lone prairie church, a sunset, a tornado.

 

This exhibit has something for all ages. Storybooks, puzzles, games, videos, worksheets and interactive devices accompany the exhibit to promote exploration and reading skills for younger museum visitors. The carpet map is intended to provide a place to sit, read and gather for stories while simultaneously creating a place for map reading activities related to settlement and environmental education by displaying annual rainfall and Kansas rivers.

In addition to K is for Kansas, the Kauffman Museum design team is dreaming of a new exhibit, A is for America, to tell the fun and curious facts about America and the stories that are often overlooked. An alphabet wall is set up on one wall with sticky notes for visitors to give their opinions on what people, places, plants, animals, things and stories should be included in the exhibit in development. 

“Receiving contributions from our own diverse community is a way for us to expand the stories and ideas that get to be put into a new exhibit,” said exhibit design assistant Rebecca Schrag, “There is not a single story that can represent America, and this brainstorming wall shows that is the case. ”

K is for Kansas, designed to travel, has visited fourteen museums, some for a second time, for a total of 20 exhibitions. It’s founding museum sponsors include the Smoky Hill Museum in Salina, the Stauth Memorial Museum in Montezuma and Johnson County Museums in Shawnee.  The exhibit and accompanying brochure received numerous awards: 2004 American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition First Prize, 2004 Mountain-Plains Museums Association award for excellence in publications, 2004 Kansas Museums Association award for excellence, and 2006 American Association for State and Local History award of merit.

Kauffman Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $4.00 for adults and $2 for children ages 6-16.

CONTACT: Michael Reinschmidt, museum director, (316) 283-1612, mreinschmidt@bethelks.edu.