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Program will show how permanent exhibit got ready for the road

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Another special event connected to “The Bison: American Icon” at Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum takes place this Sunday, Oct. 3.

Chuck Regier of Kauffman Museum and Joel Gaeddert of Flint Hills Design in North Newton – half of the design team for the national traveling exhibit – will present “Four Men and a Bison: The Creation of a Traveling Exhibit” as part of the Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum series.

The program begins at 3:30 p.m. in the museum auditorium and is free and open to the public.

The other two of the “four men” in the program title are Abe Regier of Flint Hills Design (FHD) and Mark Schmidt Andres, who does independent contract work for Kauffman Museum and the design firm.

Chuck Regier, Kauffman Museum curator of exhibits, led the design process for creating the traveling exhibit, which includes an innovative shipping crate that transforms into display modules. Andres, of Osage Woodworks, a craftsman based in rural Newton, fabricated the crating system for the Bison exhibit in collaboration with Abe Regier.

Gaeddert, who founded FHD in 2008, coordinated the entire project and served as co-designer, including the design and production of the graphic elements. A fifth man on the project was former FHD staffer Joel Krehbiel who has since returned to graduate school in mechanical engineering.

Chuck Regier and Gaeddert shared their perspectives on the design and production process at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History held in Oklahoma City Sept. 25. Also on the panel were Clay Lewis, administrator for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ NEH on the Road program, which selected the Bison exhibit for travel; Leslie Przbylek of Mid-America Arts Alliance/Exhibits USA in Kansas City, Mo., who oversees development of NEH on the Road traveling exhibits; and Anne Morand, former curator at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Mont., who led the development of that museum’s permanent exhibit “The Bison: American Icon,” which served as the foundation for the touring version.

The Kauffman Museum audience will have the opportunity Oct. 3 to learn the behind-the-scenes story of how a large, permanent exhibition was re-imagined for traveling; how crating obstacles resulted in creative solutions; and how the technical problem of graphically showing the dramatic decline of the bison in North America was resolved in a three-dimensional infographic based on mathematical calculations.

Bethel College is the only Kansas venue to host “The Bison: American Icon,” on display through Oct. 20. The exhibit is at the beginning of a five-year trek that will take it to museums all over North America.

The final Kauffman Museum events connected with the exhibit will be Saturday, Oct. 9, during Bethel College’s annual Fall Festival weekend. At 11 a.m., Steve Friesen, director of the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden, Colo., will present a free program, “Buffalo Bill and the Wildest Town in the West (Newton!?),” in the museum auditorium. From 5-6:30 p.m. that evening, Kauffman Museum will co-sponsor a Bison Barbecue in Centennial Plaza. Advance tickets are strongly recommended, available at Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center, open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m., phone 316-284-5205, or at Kauffman Museum.

Kauffman Museum, which recently received the gold medal for “best museum” in The Newton Kansan’s 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards, is located on the Bethel College campus at 27th and North Main Streets in North Newton. The museum is open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri., and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (special hours extended hours, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 9); closed Mondays and major holidays. Guided tours of “The Bison: American Icon” are available by appointment.

Regular 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 $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information or to schedule a guided tour, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit the website at

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