Telling our story

Historical Museum celebrates 75 years

Written by Kristin Baker | Photography by David Don Wallace Jr. & provided by Wichita Historical Museum

The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum is preparing for its 75th anniversary celebration. The museum, at 204 S. Main St. in the old city hall building, has its own rich history. It is the premier institution focused on the preservation and exhibition of artifacts telling the story of Sedgwick County’s history.

The Heritage Square Committee in 1976: Norma Greever, Sue Berry, Judy Slawson, Carolyn Innes, Chairwoman, Sandy Remsberg, Cheri Updegraff

Museum Director Eric Cale said the museum is a community treasure.

“There’s a lot of love for our local history, so we just build on that,” Cale said. “It really strikes a chord. There is nothing out there more relevant than your own story.”

The celebration, to be held Sept. 28, will feature a special 75th anniversary exhibit, refreshments with heavy hors d’oeuvres, music on each of the facility’s four floors and a live and silent auction to support the museum.

The museum opened in 1939 in the Wichita Forum Building, where Century II is now located, after decades of community effort. It remained in that facility until 1955, when it moved to the Cyrus M. Beachy home on Douglas Avenue after his widow donated the home and its contents to the museum.

The museum moved to its current location in 1980. It is open to the public and features exhibits that are designed to be self-directed, encyclopedic in scope and focused on local history. The museum has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1972, placing it among the top 5 percent of American museums.

“Over 75 years, we’ve compiled quite a lot of reference information,” Cale said. “We have collected over 70,000 artifacts to tell local story. It’s a unique story.”

The museum has compiled a 75th Anniversary Exhibit focusing on unusual or seldom-seen artifacts from its permanent collection. Patrons can guess each item’s identity, and the answers will be revealed at the gala.

The museum has professional full-time staff members who create about half a dozen special exhibits each year, augmenting nearly 20 core exhibits on display at any given time. The museum also depends on many dedicated volunteers, including docents, trustees and a support group known as WHiMS (Wichita Historical Museum Society) that raises money for the nonprofit organization through events such as the Wreath Festival luncheon each November and the annual Blue Moon Party fundraiser in the spring.

Janice VanSickle, WHiMS member and chairwoman of the 75th anniversary celebration, said the museum is worth preserving and celebrating. “Many who visit are surprised to find such wonderful exhibits that showcase our rich history,” VanSickle said. “We are very fortunate to have such a great historical museum.”

Event

September 28 | 6–9 p.m.
Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum 75th Anniversary Celebration
Tickets: $75

Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, drinks, music and live and silent auction items while viewing the 75th anniversary exhibit. To purchase your ticket call the museum at 316-265-9314.

 
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