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Johnson County Museum

Phone: 913-715-2550

6305 Lackman Road, Shawnee, KS 66217

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Museum Blog

The Last Stand of Elizabeth Porter

In 1941, the great real estate developer, J. C. Nichols, began planning his newest community: Prairie Village.  While Nichols would later come to regard Prairie Village as one of his jewels, the development was far from easy.  Several obstacles stood in Nichols’ path; a snaking creek that had to be straightened, and a large farmer-used landfill that needed to be covered and graded were just two of the many problems that had to be dealt with.  But one of the largest obstacles that... - published on: 07/14/2015 - 3:32pm

The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant Photograph Collection

Sunflower Plant WorkersJohnson County Museum volunteers help us tackle numerous projects, particularly the largest ones.  Inventories of photograph collections have been among our most recent efforts. One such inventory project has documented the images present in a collection acquired by the museum in 2005.  The Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant collection consists of over 55,000 negatives—images that record nearly fifty years of the ordnance plant’s operation.  Located south of De Soto, the plant’s... - published on: 12/15/2014 - 10:17am

A Country School Christmas

Lanesfield SchoolIt is December and it is cold.  Real cold.  Some people are dreading what this winter will bring.  I have heard some say that we will have more snow this winter than we have seen the past couple years.  I can’t wait.  I hope it does snow and I hope it snows a lot.  You see, Lanesfield is a pretty magical place when it snows.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something very peaceful and tranquil about that place when there is a fresh blanket... - published on: 12/04/2014 - 9:26am

Art and History Collide!

celeryAn excellent group of young students and adults gathered this past Wednesday morning to participate in the Farm to Market prints art activity at the Johnson County Museum. The students first heard a brief introduction to former harvesting  and market practices of early Johnson County citizens and had a discussion about where we get our food from today compared to the past in the Johnson County Museum’ s permanent exhibition, Seeking the Good Life. Once in the Education Center... - published on: 11/17/2014 - 1:04pm

If Museum Objects Could Talk

What story can an object tell? And wouldn’t it be great if they could talk to curators? On a recent  Saturday,  Paul Benson, objects conservator for the Nelson-Atkins Museum came to the Johnson County Museum to demonstrate  surface cleaning on a set of five stone Chinese musicians, a donation received by the Museum in 2013.  After an hour of scrubbing with a mild detergent, much of the surface dirt and organic growth (green slime) disappeared, rendering the statues almost... - published on: 11/04/2014 - 7:44am

Notes from the Front Desk

When I asked a group of museum visitors the other day what a museum is, the responses ranged from “building” to “brown” to “a place to play.” While I guess I shouldn’t have expected a concise, coherent definition from 30 five-year-olds, it got my mind spinning. What is a museum? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I still don’t have a complete answer, but here are some thoughts from behind the scenes. Museums have long been buildings in the community that are acknowledged... - published on: 10/20/2014 - 10:11am

Evel Knievel and How He Helped Me Remember My Childhood

Vintage ToysI recently attended the American Association for State and Local History’s annual meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota.  As a museum geek, I always love the opportunity to visit and explore museums in other cities. Museums serve to inspire, delight, educate, challenge, and transport us…and that is exactly what the Minnesota Historical Society did for me. As a child of the 1970s, the TOYS of the 50s, 60s, and 70s exhibit skillfully transformed me back to 1974 in my family’s living room playing... - published on: 10/10/2014 - 8:29am

90 Years of Service: The Shawnee Fire Department

fire locker Times have changed since the early days of the Shawnee Fire Department, when in 1924 a group of businessmen gathered donations from local residents to buy a truck for fire protection.  Ninety years ago, the force consisted of 20 volunteers and the truck that residents pitched in and purchased for them.  A siren on top of the station on Barton Drive in downtown Shawnee would alert the all-volunteer fire department to emergency calls. In fact, Shawnee's entire fire department... - published on: 10/01/2014 - 5:19pm

Child Labor and Lewis Hine

image of young child in field picking cotton; image by Lewis Hine as part of the exhibit Let Childen Be ChildrenHow do you talk to children from suburban Johnson County, Kansas about child labor? The opening of the Johnson County Museum’s new exhibit Lewis Hine: Let Children Be Children, has opened the door for that dialog to take place for our visitors viewing the exhibit with their school-aged children. As a museum educator, I have been part of countless exhibits, some with more difficult subject matter than others. This photography exhibit is challenging, both to look at and to make relatable to... - published on: 09/22/2014 - 3:46pm

Horse Thievery in Early Johnson County

Handbill offering a $60,000 reward to caputre horse thiefs, dated 1901. In the early days of Johnson County's history, menacing bands of thieves roamed the countryside and stole what were usually a family's most prized possessions:  horses. Horses were crucial for farming and transportation, and many families depended on them for their livelihoods. By the late 1850s, horse thievery became an epidemic.  In 1859 alone, there were over a dozen horse theft incidents in Shawnee.  An investigation revealed that border ruffians from Missouri were entering... - published on: 09/08/2014 - 12:28pm

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