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K is for Kansas: Exploring Kansas from A to Z
March 10, 2020 - August 15, 2020
This exhibit leads visitors on an alphabetic journey across the Sunflower State, from “aviation” to “Z-Bar Ranch.” The exhibit was developed by Kauffman Museum, Bethel College, 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 represented in various ways from maps and historic photographs to the real object. Preschoolers can play with an ornate box turtle shell or a toy Sante Fe locomotive. School children 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 ‘pests?’ 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, designer, teachers, scientists, artists and carpenters who, after a combined 200 years of living here, have come to love Kansas,” said Kauffman Museum exhibit designer Chuck Regier.
The words selected by the exhibit team included personal favorites that point to the quirky and fun sides of Kansas. For example, Dalton Gang, Dexter helium wells and dogbane are listed ad D words. But the exhibit also supports social studies and science standards established by the Kansas Department of Education 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 a bookmark and two postcards are available for free with the exhibit.