"Forces" That Shaped Flint Hills Now On Display In Unique Exhibit

By: Lindsey Rogers Email
By: Lindsey Rogers Email

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- A new exhibit at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan is giving visitors a unique look at the history of the Flint Hills region.

More than 100 artifacts are now on display in a temporary exhibit called "Forces: The Shaping of Manhattan, Fort Riley and Kansas State University."

The exhibit explains and illustrates the development of the military post, town and college and the foundation that the three long-standing entities created.

"It’s an exhibit that looks at the founding of our three communities, how each area has shaped and reinforced each other over the first 75 years of our history," explained Bob Workman, director of the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

The project is the result of a collaboration between the Flint Hills Discovery Center and five different entities- the U.S. Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley, the Conservation Division at Fort Riley, Kansas State University’s Historic Costume & Textiles Museum, the Morse Department of Special Collections at Kansas State University Libraries and the Riley County Historical Society.

"All of us together combined our ideas and collections to develop this overview of Manhattan, Fort Riley and Kansas State University have been major forces in the shaping of each other. It took us about 18 months of work on this project," Workman said.

"The purpose of this exhibit is to introduce audiences of all ages to some of the overarching ideas, events and issues that have influenced three places- a military post, a town and a college- from their collective founding about 150 years ago to the advent of World War I. Manhattan, Fort Riley and Kansas State University each has its own unique and dynamic history. We are fortunate to have been able to partner with these organizations to begin to sketch out connections between our collective histories," a plaque states in the display.

The exhibit, primarily funded by the Kansas Humanities Council, includes a 1912 Model T car as well as an 1851 Dragoon jacket- an extremely rare piece of military history. The only other existent artifact of a uniform of that nature is housed at the Smithsonian Institution, officials said.

Dr. Robert Smith, Supervisory Curator of the Fort Riley Museum Division, told WIBW: "We were very happy to contribute the history of Fort Riley from 1853 to 1917. It was a very interesting process. We’re very happy to collaborate and tell the Fort Riley story because I think Fort Riley played a significant role in the history of this Flint Hills region."

The "Forces" exhibit will be open until January 13, 2013.

Those organizations involved in the project collected so much information that it could not all be included at once. Part 2 of the exhibit will revealed in the Fall of 2014.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center, located on South 3rd Street in Manhattan, will host its inaugural free Family Day event on Saturday, September 22, 2012 to promote the new exhibit and allow guests to tour the permanent exhibits as well. Hours of operation will be from 10 AM to 5 PM and admission will be free to the public, courtesy of the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Farm Bureau Financial Services.

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