Alumni | Give to BC | Athletics | Fine Arts | Thresher Connect | Search


Former Kauffman Museum director wins Distinguished Service Award

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Rachel Pannabecker, former director of the Kauffman Museum at Bethel College, was presented a Distinguished Service Award by the Kansas Museums Association (KMA), Nov. 7 at the KMA annual conference in Salina.

Pannabecker was recognized for her spirit of collaboration and her ongoing commitment to advancing the mission of museums during her 30-year career in the field.

Her broad interests in and acquaintance with ideas and people in the museum world statewide, nationally and internationally made her a consistent, stable resource and mentor to the staff at Kauffman Museum and colleagues across Kansas.

Kim Legleiter, director at the Stauth Memorial Museum in Montezuma, commented, “Rachel was very influential in the beginning of my career. She was indispensable as I learned about the logistics and aesthetics of exhibit installation.

“Over the years, Rachel has continued to be a source of information on many museum topics, and an important mentor for me.”

Under Pannabecker’s leadership, Kauffman Museum created numerous traveling exhibits, bringing

high-quality exhibitions to other museums. Pannabecker also fostered collaborative relationships with other local and regional organizations such as Mid-America Arts Alliance and Flint Hills Design of North Newton.

Additional collaborative ventures include Kauffman Museum’s contract with the Kansas Humanities Council to transport and facilitate installation of the Smithsonian Institution’s “Museums on Main Street” exhibits, which provides a needed service to smaller museums and strengthens the Kansas museums community.

Pannabecker began her career at Kauffman Museum in 1984, working in collections management. She served as museum director from 1997 until her retirement in October 2014.

She plans to continue contributing to the Kansas museum community post-retirement as an independent consultant. She has also accepted a position on the Development Committee for the KMA and Mountain-Plains Museums Association joint conference in Wichita in 2015.

Pannabecker plans to continue at Kauffman Museum as the volunteer collections manager.

The Kansas Museums Association presents Distinguished Service Awards to individuals who demonstrate dedication to the museum profession. Awardees are nominated by the museum community and selected by a committee of peers.

KMA is a statewide organization for museums, historical societies, art galleries, nature centers, zoos, convention and visitors’ centers and libraries. Its purpose is to promote museums and provide leadership, advocacy, and training for everyone interested in Kansas museums. For more information, visit

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with extended hours, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6, for “5 Places of Christmas.” The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

Admission to the current special exhibit, “Climate and Energy Central: Doing Science in Kansas” as well as the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. Admission is free for everyone on Dec. 6.

For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website,, or Facebook page.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.