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Smithsonian exhibit puts rural at the center

December 8th, 2020

Detail from "Crossroads" exhibit

This is the last week to see the special exhibit at Kauffman Museum (through Sunday, Jan. 17).

The museum has partnered with Humanities Kansas to bring the Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit to the local area.

Kauffman Museum has built on the photographs, hands-on activities and audio and video clips provided by the Smithsonian in the “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” to tell the history and culture of local rural life and to spark conversations using its own companion exhibit, “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change.”

The local exhibit encourages visitors to celebrate the land where Kauffman Museum and the community are located, to honor those who have lived and worked here, and to reflect on the profound changes that have occurred over time.

“Of Land and People” introduces the First Americans who hunted and traveled along Sand Creek; ponders the changes to the prairie and the enrichment to our community brought by immigrants from Europe and Mexico; and explores the rich legacy of trails in North Newton and Newton.  

Graphics invite visitors to “Crossroads” to “Take Another Look!” at portions of Kauffman Museum’s permanent exhibits, while “Take a Walk!” encourages exploration outdoors on the North Newton trail system, with more content at eight existing “Stories Along the Trail” kiosks.

In addition, the exhibit poses questions about local foods and food producers to highlight the community’s own resources.

The companion exhibit, “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change,” will stay open until Feb. 7, three weeks longer than the main “Crossroads” exhibit. There will be a variety of programs offered in conjunction with “Crossroads” and “Of Land and People.”

The final program centered on either the traveling exhibit or the companion will be Saturday, Jan. 30, when Kauffman Museum’s annual Celebrate Kansas Day! will have the theme “Cultural Crossroads: Our Stories, Our Foods,” with food trucks, local producer booths, make-it-at-home crafts and North Newton trails stations.

There will be programs via Zoom with Glen Ediger, North Newton, telling stories about Mennonite ethnic foods (11 a.m.), and Jenny Masias, Newton, Bethel instructor of Spanish, speaking on “The Immigrants Who Built Newton: One Spike at a Time” (2 p.m.).

Check the Kauffman Museum website and Facebook page for more information and updates.

“Crossroads” is touring six Kansas communities in 2020-21.

“Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, Humanities Kansas is able to bring the resources of the nation’s premier cultural institution to Kansas,” said Julie Mulvihill, executive director of Humanities Kansas.

“The communities were selected because of the inspired plans provided by local organizations to use the national exhibition as a springboard to explore local stories of innovation and adaptation.”

Humanities Kansas sponsors the “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” initiative in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, a one-of-a-kind cultural project that serves small towns and residents of rural communities. To learn more about the “Crossroads” statewide tour, visit humanitieskansas.org

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” has been made possible at Kauffman Museum by Humanities Kansas. “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

For more information about “Crossroads” and “Of Land and People,” contact Kauffman Museum, kauffman@bethelks.edu or 316-283-1612, or visit www.kauffmanmuseum.org

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays (Friday, Dec. 25, Friday, Jan. 1). Non-museum members pay a small entrance fee; the special exhibit is free on Saturdays. With ever-changing COVID protocols, please check the museum website or Facebook page or call 316-283-1612 before planning a visit.

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.