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Kauffman Museum program will complement Wichita area “Big Read”

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Great Plains residents of the 21st century can step back in time through an afternoon of free activities at Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum meant to coincide with an area-wide event called The Big Read.

Sunday, Oct. 12, visitors can wander through big bluestem grass and sunflowers and walk through an 1875 immigrant house before attending a program at 3:30 p.m. on My Ántonia by Willa Cather. Kansans living in the greater Wichita area are being encouraged to read Cather’s novel through The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.

Said Kauffman Museum director Rachel Pannabecker, “The Big Read invited Kauffman Museum to host the ‘My Ántonia Prairie Walk and Talk’ because visitors to our museum can experience firsthand the waving prairie grasses and living conditions of early settlers that are described so vividly by Willa Cather. Our afternoon will complement the Wichita programs about the novel’s depiction of settlement of the Great Plains.”

The tallgrass prairie restoration in front of Kauffman Museum is open to the public 24/7 while the Voth-Unruh-Fast immigrant house is open Oct. 12 by special arrangement, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

At 3:30 p.m. in the museum auditorium, Bethel College students will provide contemporary responses to Cather’s novel, focusing on the themes including the prairie and taming of the land, memory, and the immigrant experience. The students read My Ántonia as part of their Understanding Literature class taught by Ami Regier, Bethel College professor of English. The college and the Newton Public Library are co-sponsors of this Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program.

For more information, contact Rachel Pannabecker at Kauffman Museum, 316-283-1612 or rpannabe@bethelks.edu.

Kauffman Museum is located at the corner of 27th and North Main Streets on the Bethel College campus in North Newton. Regular museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri., and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the museum, which also includes admission to the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 6-16. For more information, visit the museum Web site at www.bethelks.edu/kauffman/.

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