Kansas Museum of History progresses on construction overhaul

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 7:16 PM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2023 at 7:24 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Museum of History has served as a collective memory for Kansans since its establishment nearly 40 years ago, touting the Sunflower State’s rich, unique history.

In September 2022, it closed for renovations, upgrades, and repairs to the building. Today, it’s nearly gutted to make room for the drastic changes already underway.

Nate Forsberg, exhibits director for the Kansas Museum of History, says that construction has been challenging but will improve visitors’ experience once complete.

“The new design is going to be maybe more open, there will be less of that dividing the space into small spaces. You’ll be able to see across the space a little bit better.”

Additionally, patrons will see changes in the way artifacts are displayed. Items will now be grouped thematically instead of chronologically. Museum leaders say this approach will better contribute to visitors’ understanding of Kansas history.

Museum officials say their main goals are shedding light on lesser-known stories from our state’s history and offering fresh interpretations of existing pieces.

“As scholarship advances and technology changes we need to make sure that we are updating what we are doing with our museum space as well,” said museum director, Sarah Bell. “We’re going to be looking at the interpretation in a different way from this thematic approach really trying to bring in more contemporary stories throughout the entire space.”

One item that will not be returning is the speedy sign previously displayed at the museum.

“Unfortunately, that one is not coming back, but Mcdonald’s is not one of those Kansas-based restaurants, but those same stories that you love about Kansas history will still be here and we are going to be including even more voices and more perspectives in this space,” said Bell.

Bell said the museum and its new gallery are expected to reopen in June 2024.