Time capsule from 1951 unveiled at Board of County Commissioners meeting

Paul Benson opens a copper time capsule and uses pincers to pick up a business card

Conservator Paul Benson assisted Johnson County Museum staff in opening the time capsule. Its contents were revealed at today's Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Johnson County revealed the contents of a 71-year-old time capsule at today’s Board of County Commissioners meeting.

The time capsule was assembled and stored in the previous Johnson County Courthouse on May 7, 1951. It was discovered in a wall cavity during demolition of the courthouse last year.

The contents of the time capsule were stored in a small copper box. Johnson County Museum staff worked with Paul Benson, an associate conservator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, to first x-ray it, and then open it.

Upon opening it, museum staff discovered a handful of artifacts from the time period, including photographs, newspapers, event programs and more. Specific contents included:

  • 36 sealed envelopes from various municipalities
  • A newspaper microfilm reel
  • A trial docket dated May 5, 1951
  • A program from the 1949 Model Airplane Meet
  • A program for the 1948 Old Settlers Day
  • A 1950 Olathe phone directory
  • Photographs of construction of the former courthouse

Museum staff will next review the full contents of the time capsule. They will consult with paper conservators before opening sealed envelopes and packets, and make an inventory and condition of materials.

Staff will also consider incorporating these items into their collection at the museum. Possible public display of the time capsule and its contents are not yet determined, and details will be announced at a later date.

Opening of the Courthouse Time Capsule

Board of County Commissioners
Park and Recreation