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Kauffman Museum part of national celebration for new museum

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – When the Smithsonian Institution opens its newest museum, the celebration will reach beyond Washington, D.C., to Bethel College in North Newton.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens Sept. 24. On that day, Kauffman Museum will host “A Place for All People: Introducing the National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

The commemorative poster exhibition will be on view for one afternoon only, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at the museum.

At 3 p.m. Sept. 24, Kauffman Museum Director Annette LeZotte will give a presentation on how the National Museum of African American History and Culture developed and how it will change the visual landscape of the National Mall in Washington.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) organized “A Place for All People” in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The poster exhibit highlights key artifacts that tell the rich and diverse story of the African-American experience. From the child-size shackles of a slave, to the clothing worn by Carlotta Walls on her first day at Little Rock Central High School, to Chuck Berry’s Gibson guitar, “Maybellene,” to the track shoes worn by Olympian Carl Lewis, the exhibition presents a living history that reflects challenge, triumph, faith and hope.

SITES director Myriam Springuel said, “‘A Place for all People’ evokes the power of oration and freedom stories, the brilliance of artistic achievement and the soaring heights of cultural expression. It is a survey of the African-American community’s deep and lasting contributions to the American story.”

Sept. 24 is also the 12th annual Museum Day Live! sponsored by Smithsonian magazine, when admission is free at all cooperating museums, which include Kauffman Museum.

Kauffman Museum met the criteria for hosting “A Place for All People”: to be willing and able to display the posters on Sept. 24, 2016; to be willing and able to do associated public programs; and to have a previously established relationship with the Smithsonian.

The first of these special programs is Sept. 25 at the museum, which is co-sponsoring, with Bethel’s Student Government Association, #PIECE UNITED, an exhibit of student artwork and art-related contributions.

“We are asking students to share visual art, photography, poetry, song lyrics or anything visual or artistic that tells a personal story of ‘what the African-American experience means to me,’” said LeZotte. “We encourage the art to be original, but that isn’t required.”

While the student exhibit will remain in the museum through October, the opening reception is Sept. 25 from 2-4 p.m. and will include poetry reading, a food truck, free T-shirts to the first 50 students and live music. The public is invited along with all Bethel students.

The second special program is Oct. 9 at the museum, when quilt historian Marla Jackson, Lawrence, gives a Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum presentation. “From Slavery to a Free State: The Story of Maria Rogers Martin” explores the life and legacy of a quilter and former enslaved person who came to Lawrence with abolitionists in 1862.

The journey to establish the newest museum in Washington, D.C., began a century ago with a call for a national memorial to honor the contributions of African-American Civil War veterans.

After decades of effort by private citizens, organizations and members of Congress, federal legislation passed in 2003 created the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Since then, thousands of artifacts have been collected to fill the new building that has risen on the National Mall.

Through its exhibitions and programs, the museum will provide “a place for all people,” with a shared lens to view the nation’s history and the possibility for hope and healing. For more information, visit

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history. For exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, 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. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the special exhibit “Memory Matters: Work by Gesine Janzen,” 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. 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.