Places: Museums

18Feb - by The Chung Report - 0 - In Uncategorized



Places: Museums

This series is devoted to places that make up our city — pockets to explore, share and uncover the past, present and potential future of Wichita.

PLACES: MUSEUMS

This series is devoted to the places that make up our city — pockets to explore, share and uncover the past, present and potential future of Wichita.

Museums, in particular, are built to do just this.

"[Museums are] about all of those things — to make [artifacts, archives and ideas] available for the public, to rethink the past, but also to dream about the future," says Tim Norton, executive director of the Wichita Aviation Museum. "[Museums are] part of who we are as a society, as a civilization, as a social construct. What we’ve built, what we’ve touched and what we’ve thought about is part of who we are. And preservation of that, understanding of that and learning from that, I think, is important."

The Kansas Aviation Museum in particular represents a lot of these things for Wichita, to both insiders and outsiders. Aviation has defined Wichita’s past, is currently defining its present and likely will play a major role in its future.

Wichita’s history and legacy can be viewed through countless lenses, many of which have their own museums. Each combine to create a full picture of our city, challenging and informing our own perceptions of who we are.

What we’ve built, what we’ve touched and what we’ve thought about is part of who we are. And preservation of that, understanding of that and learning from that, I think, is important.Tim Norton

In Wichita, not every perspective is equally appreciated. There are well-known museums and others that are fairly unknown, due to a variety of factors including budgets, locations and the perspectives they’re sharing.

"Sometimes it’s just by serendipity," Norton says. "The public rallies around something and says, that’s important to us. We’re going to take care of that."

This chart, using self-reported data from museums in the downtown area, shows that in 2018 attendance for downtown museums varied from just 3,500 attendees per year to over 270,000.

Places: Museums

Source: Visit Wichita

Places like the Exploration Place, The Wichita Art Museum and Botanica are well-supported and funded. The same cannot be said for other museums including the Kansas African-American Museum and the Kansas Aviation Museum.

"I think that’s just the way of the world," Norton says. "It’s true with businesses. You see some businesses flourishing and they’re maybe not in a great part of town or whatever, but they found their audience and their voice. And then there’s other businesses that go out of business in a year. So I think it’s true with museums too."

Regardless of popularity or funding, each of these museums is important to the overall story, history and legacy of Wichita. Each has a story to tell, and each is deserving of an open mind and the price of admission. Review our list, visit the ones you haven’t seen and start a conversation about the museums that matter to you.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: VISIT WICHITA

OLD COWTOWN

The Old Cowtown Museum tells the story of Wichita’s cowtown origins — the cattle ranchers, gunslingers and lawmen who found their way here in the 1800s.

Address: 1865 W. Museum Blvd.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: VISIT WICHITA

EXPLORATION PLACE

The Exploration Place was built in 2000 on the Arkansas River, a culmination of a $65 million public-private partnership designed to make the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) more accessible for children in the Wichita region.

Address: 300 N McLean Blvd.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: VISIT WICHITA

GREAT PLAINS TRANSPORTATION MUSEUM

The Great Plains Transportation Museum shares the history of Wichita’s railway system, showcasing old locomotives that "represent the last class of passenger locomotives that were built for the Santa Fe in their respective eras."

Address: 700 East Douglas Ave.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: 360 WICHITA

KANSAS FIREFIGHTERS MUSEUM

The Kansas Firefighters Museum is located in Wichita’s old Engine House No. 6, which was built in 1909. The museum shows what firefighting was like at the turn of the century and honors Kansas firefighters who died in the line of duty.

Address: 1300 S Broadway St.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: KANSAS TRAVEL

KANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME

The Kansas Sports Hall of Fame was founded by the Kansas Legislature and houses the official Kansas high school state records and state championship results, along with memorabilia highlighting the history of athletics in Kansas.

Address: 515 S Wichita St.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: 360 WICHITA

McCORMICK SCHOOL MUSEUM

The McCormick School Museum is run by a group of retired USD 259 staff and seeks to preserve the history and heritage of public education in Wichita. Its exhibits include a variety of historical books and supplies and a fully restored 1890s classroom.

Address: 855 S. Martinson St.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: VISIT WICHITA

MID-AMERICA ALL-INDIAN CENTER

The Mid-America All-Indian Center is a cultural center and museum dedicated to exploring the culture, art, music, food and history of the Plains Indians.

Address: 650 N Seneca St.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY

ULRICH MUSEUM OF ART

Located on the main campus of Wichita State University, the Ulrich Museum of Art displays traveling exhibits from renowned and local artists and is home to the world-famous Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People) by Joan Míro.

Address: 1845 Fairmount St.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: VISIT WICHITA

WICHITA ART MUSEUM

The Wichita Art Museum provides a showcase for contemporary and historic artists from around the world. The museum has more than 7,000 pieces in permanent collection and hosts traveling exhibits.

Address: 1400 Museum Blvd.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: MUSEUM OF WORLD TREASURES

MUSEUM OF WORLD TREASURES

Located in the heart of Old Town, the Museum of World Treasures offers a view into world history, from the prehistoric to the recent past. Dinosaur fossils, a mummy and a genuine shrunken head are all included in its eclectic collection.

Address: 835 E 1st St. N

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: VISIT WICHITA

WICHITA-SEDGWICK COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM

The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum is located in the original Wichita City Hall Building in downtown Wichita. It tells the story of local history through artifacts and archives dating back to Wichita’s founding.

Address: 204 S. Main St.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: KANSAS TRAVEL

KANSAS AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM

The Kansas African American Museum (TKAAM) is located in the old Calvary Baptist Church, a cornerstone of Wichita’s African-American community. It tells the story of the people and places that created vibrancy throughout Kansas and Wichita, including America’s first African-American Academy Award winner and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s lawyer.

Address: 601 N. Water St.

Places: Museums
PHOTO CREDIT: KMUW

KANSAS AVIATION MUSEUM

The Kansas Aviation Museum, located in Wichita’s original airport, tells the story of flight in Wichita. From Steerman, Beech and Cessna to Lear and the companies that make up Wichita’s current aviation industry, this museum shows how Wichita became the Air Capital of the World.

Address: 3350 South George Washington Blvd.

GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH

While some of these museums are staples of the Wichita experience, easily spotted on a cursory overview of the city’s offerings, some are off the beaten path — sometimes literally.

The Aviation Museum, for instance is in south Wichita, tucked between Spirit AeroSystems and McConnell Air Force Base.

The African-American Museum is next to the Sedgwick County Jail, which has raised issues of optics and whether or not the museum could actually be relocated without damaging the historic church, which was built in 1917.

Curt Clonts, host of an Artists’ Perspective on KMUW, has advocated for relocating the building.

"We have allowed our city and county government to literally build a prison around the Kansas African American Museum," he said on a recent broadcast. "We need to pay the money, pick the building up, and move the building, and I mean now."

Being seen can be expensive, which puts museums in a sort of catch-22. In order to get more visitors, you need funding. And in order to get funding, you need more visitors.

If you’re not raising money, you’re not showing off your artwork, you’re not putting the carousel at Botanica, you’re not doing those things that are so important to the community. And sometimes it just takes money. So fundraising is always very important.Tim Norton

Norton, who served as a Sedgwick County Commissioner, says, while public funding can sometimes come into play, museums are mostly funded by donations and memberships.

"Fundraising is top of mind for any executive director," he says. "If you’re not raising money, you’re not showing off your artwork, you’re not putting the carousel at Botanica, you’re not doing those things that are so important to the community. And sometimes it just takes money. So fundraising is always very important."

Admissions and memberships also go a long way to support the work of museums across the city. Take the time to experience our city and learn from stories told through Wichita’s museums. Finally, take part in that story yourself by sharing what you know and spreading the word about Wichita’s past and present.


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