K is for Kansas

Explore the Sunflower State with
“K is for Kansas” Museum Exhibit

Coffey County Historical Museum will host a traveling exhibit entitled K is for Kansas: Exploring Kansas from A to Z from February 18, 2006 through April 13, 2006. The exhibit will lead visitors on an alphabetic journey across the Sunflower State, from aviation to Z-Bar Ranch. The exhibit was developed by Kauffman Museum, Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.

K is for Kansas uses the letters of the alphabet to illustrate significant features of the natural and cultural history of Kansas. Composed of big alphabet blocks that surround a large-scale carpet map of Kansas, the exhibit seeks to increase appreciation of the unique people, places, animals, plants and everyday things of Kansas.

Each of the 26 alphabet blocks provides in-depth coverage of a word meaningful to Kansas. These words are presents in various ways from maps and historic photographs to the real object. Preschoolers can play with an ornate box turtle shell or a toy Santa Fe locomotive. Schoolchildren can learn about James Naismith, the inventor of basketball and first University of Kansas basketball coach, by playing a mini-game at the “N” block. Everyone will appreciate the breeze of the Vornado fan invented in Kansas, and a carving of an upland sandpiper by Newton artist Ray Cook.

“The exploring theme is also reflected in the exhibit’s design.” said Rachel Pannabecker, Kauffman Museum director, “In-depth information about grasshoppers is hidden until you lift flippers marked “pest” and “partners” while the definition and picture of a free state “jayhawker” is revealed only when you push a slider.” Discovery packets with activity suggestions are available to orient families with children to the exhibit.

Hundreds of words were considered while developing the exhibit. “The exhibit reflects where we are and who we are-an exhibit team of parents, designers, teachers, scientists, artists and carpenters who, after a combined 200 years of living here, have come to love Kansas,” said Kauffman exhibit designer Chuck Regier.

The words selected by the exhibit team include personal favorites that point to the quirky and fun side of Kansas. For example, Dalton Gang, Dexter helium wells and dogbane are listed as D words. But the exhibit also supports social studies and science standards established by the Kansas Department of Education by including Kansas symbols and words such as dust bowl.

A 28-page, folding booklet featuring the Kansas alphabet provides the complete list of words included in the exhibit. The “K is for Kansas” booklet along with a bookmark and two postcards recently received first prize in the 2004 American Association of Museums Publications Design Competition. These exhibit materials are available for sale in the Coffey County Historical Museum Store.