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Museum will hold open house as closing for special photo exhibit

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For the last two months, Kauffman Museum on the Bethel College campus has been featuring the India photos of Cookie Wiebe.

The exhibit closes this Sunday with a special open house, including remarks by Wiebe’s husband, Dave Wiebe of Newton.

“…the eyes of a stranger: India images and experiences by Cookie Wiebe” and the museum’s permanent exhibits will be open free to the public Jan. 22 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Dave Wiebe will speak at 3:30 in the museum auditorium.

There will also be chai, a milky spiced tea popular on the Indian subcontinent, served to open house visitors.

Cookie Wiebe died Oct. 31, 2011, at age 57 after being diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in late 2010. Though she never saw the Kauffman Museum exhibit, titled “…the eyes of a stranger: India images and experiences by Cookie Wiebe,” she was able to enjoy similar exhibitions in Wichita and Newton in 2011.

The Kauffman Museum special exhibit features, in addition to Wiebe’s photos, companion artifacts collected in India by museum friends. The museum store has mounted photos by Wiebe for sale and for order.

Wiebe graduated from Bethel College in 1976 with a degree in art. She began spending significant time and energy on her photography starting in 2009, when she and Dave returned to Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India, where they had also served in the 1990s.

In the year before her cancer diagnosis, Wiebe took her small digital camera with her everywhere she went. She and Dave particularly enjoyed hiking together – Mussoorie is in northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Wiebe estimated she took between 2,000 and 3,000 photos a month while she was in India.

Forced to return to Kansas for treatment, Wiebe continued to take photos – especially along the Sand Creek bike/walking path that ran near her home on West 11th Street – almost up until her death.

For more information about the Jan. 22 open house, call Rachel Pannabecker, museum director, at 316-283-1612.

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 museum (on other than special days) and its 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, visit

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