In 1919, discouraged that artifacts of Wichita and Sedgwick County were disappearing, the Sedgwick County Pioneer Society began collecting and displaying historical items in the Sedgwick County Courthouse. Nearly a century later, what began as a modest collection of early memorabilia has expanded to nearly 70,000 Sedgwick County and Wichita-related artifacts, which together trace the history of the region from 1865 to the present. Now housed in Wichita’s original, renovated City Hall, the collection’s photographs, clothing, decorative arts, and household items enrich award-winning exhibits that tell tale of the area’s Buffalo-hunting days, Great Depression–era dust storms, and aircraft industry.
The museum is also home to three re-created environments from the region’s past. The garage re-creation holds a 1916 Jones Six automobile, the only such Wichita-built vehicle on public exhibit, and the drug store reproduces the feel of the popular early 20th-century neighborhood gathering place. Over in the Wichita Cottage, seven rooms of a Victorian-style 19th-century home house authentic period items such as a wooden icebox, a gas-and-electric ceiling light fixture, and a phone powered by animosity toward Rutherford B. Hayes.
Pairing works by local artists with museum-quality framing, Prairiebrooke Arts is both a gallery and preservation studio. Canvases, sculptures, and intricately blown glass dot the studio's walls and tables, representing handsome finished works available for sale. To help decorate homes and businesses, the gallery's staff performs on-site artistic consultations wherein they discuss with clients which piece would best complement a room's color scheme or its resident stack of old magazines.
An equally discerning eye is cast on each of Prairiebrooke Arts' framing projects. Fine art consultants offer their ideas for how to best frame a photo or piece of art, whether employing gold leaf, French details, or museum-grade preservation materials. Their talents also extend into three-dimensional pieces, which stand inside shadow boxes that display objects such as colorful fishing lures and baby shoes.
Veteran reporter Johnny Rowlands is known not only for his real-time traffic reports and breaking news coverage, but also his immaculate flying record as a news-copter pilot. With more than 20,000 hours of incident-free flying under his belt, he opened KC Copters with a ?flying smart? mentality that emphasizes enhanced safety. Using Johnny?s safety-oriented protocol, professional pilots lead tours, lessons, and discovery flights in Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters.
Under the auspices of the Kansas Historical Society, the Kansas Museum of History, winner of the American Association for State and Local History award, enlightens guests with a culturally rich reservoir of exhibitions showcasing the Wheat State's triumphs and tribulations. Revel in Kansas's 150th year of statehood with a peek at the motif-centered "150 Things I Love About Kansas", which pulls Kansan allegories and clichés from The Wizard of Oz to national breadbasket status out of context for examination as a whole. Ongoing exhibits highlight the Native American influence with a Cheyenne tepee, the hardship of westward movement through a covered wagon, and the wonder of 21st-century science with a cryogenically frozen Jayhawks mascot. Young children hop back in time at the fully interactive Discovery Place, primed with frontier dress-up ensembles and a locomotive ready to be commandeered.
Jingle Bell Drive harnesses more than half a million lights to illuminate its half-mile evening path of enchanting seasonal spectacles. After deactivating headlights, vehicles slowly inch through a light- and cone-lined trail boasting more than 100 new displays, a 150-foot color-changing tunnel, and Christmas trees adorned with thousands of extremely patient fireflies. Throughout each voyage, 96.9 FM spins a plethora of beloved Christmas and wintertime tunes synchronized to the drive-through park's exhibitions. Jingle Bell Drive brightens holiday evenings seven nights a week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, or until a hibernating Y2K realizes it forgot to set its alarm.
Inside the lobby of KU Natural History Museum, unsuspecting guests mill underneath a 45-foot-long mosasaur, seemingly oblivious to the marine creature’s razor-sharp teeth and whip-like spine. But the fossilized cretaceous-period animal remains harmless as visitors ogle it and many others housed in the museum’s 50,000-square-foot space. They run their fingers through the grooves in femurs dating back 150 million years, then time travel to the modern day in the panorama of North American animals, a sprawling display of animals frozen in realistic tableaus that often include fast food franchises in the background. Guests can also soak up insect energy in Bugtown, an area filled with human-size worm tunnels and a live bee colony.