IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to the exciting recent acquisition of almost 200 artifacts that directly relate to the Museum’s upcoming exhibit, Forgotten Heroes: Conflict in Korea, 1950-1953, scheduled to open on June 30, 2016, the exhibit opening is postponed to allow our curator time for adequate research. We hope to have this event rescheduled for the fall, and an announcement will be made in the near future. Please check our Website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for the latest updates and details.
The Museum Takes its Current Form
Tim restarted the Rotating Gallery in 2012 when a temporary exhibit, Lock, Stock, and Barrel: A Brief Evolution of Firearms and Warfare opened on March 15, 2012. The exhibit was curated by Chris Thome, a student at Wichita State University. Under Tim’s guidance, Chris chose the theme, designed the exhibit, did research, and wrote signs. From this point, every exhibit in the Rotating Gallery lasted a year and was designed by a Student Curator. Later temporary exhibits added new elements to the space, including new logos for the exhibits and LED track lighting. A more recent rotating exhibit, Transcribing History: Pictographs, Parchments, and the Printing Press, can be seen in Figure 4.
The final big change to the exhibits was case lighting. Tim began putting small lights inside the custom cases. This helped cut down on glare and make the objects more visible. The first exhibit to utilize case lighting was Form and Function: Making a Living in the Cenozoic. Since then, every permanent exhibit has utilized case lighting. In later exhibits, such as Creating the Crown and Through the Lens, every case was a custom case and they all had internal lighting. An example of the built-in cases and the case lighting in Creating the Crown can be seen in Figure 5.
In 2012, two notable changes happened in the Collections Department. The first is that Steven King replaced LaWanda Smith as Curator of Collections in October. The second thing that happened was: by the end of December, 50% of the objects in the Museum were owned by the Museum. This change from a collection that was mostly on loan to one that was mostly owned by the Museum was a major objective for LaWanda and her team.
In 2014, the Museum took part in its second Museum Assessment Program (MAP). This time, it was focused on Collections Management. The MAP reviewer was Jackie Hoff, the Director of Collections Services at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Her recommendations inspired the Museum staff to make large scale plans for their departments. First, Steven King was inspired to expand curatorial. Jackie Hoff said that the current curatorial storage room is too small and that it needs to at least double in size in order to accommodate all of the artifacts that are kept in it. That room is important because the Museum now has 9,918 objects in its collection and nearly 70% of those are not on display! Kristin Martin, the current Director of Education, revised her vision for the CAC to include an activity room that could be used for the hands-on portion of tours, camp-ins, and other student focused activities. Large scale changes on the third floor made it necessary to start talking with the whole staff about the renovations.
The end of 2014 saw a major milestone for MOWT. Prior to 2014, operating and lease agreements with the City of Wichita were only for the duration of a year. On December 2, the Wichita City Council approved a new operating agreement and lease with MOWT. This new agreement was for 25 years. The new lease is a huge relief and moral boost to the Museum staff.
2015 saw several more milestones at MOWT. The year started with a Board Retreat to discuss ideas for a strategic plan for the Museum. The retreat helped identify what issues the Museum needed to address and what the Museum could improve. At the end of the retreat, four committees, comprised of both Board members and the staff, were created to address the top four issues.
Tim began contacting architects to discuss the proposed renovations for the third floor. Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey (SJCF) Architecture was chosen as the one that the Museum wanted to work with. They created some architectural drawings based on this input and these drawings were used on November 19, 2015 at an event at the Museum called Penny for Your Thoughts. The event was a huge success and there was a lot of support for these changes. In order for the Museum to make such large changes, the Museum would need to have better funding.
Well before the Penny for Your Thoughts event, Mike Noller recognized that the Museum needed to improve its funding and support. He worked with Rachel Stanley-Williams to create a Development Department. In October, Crystal Neihoff was hired as the Development Director.
One final thing that happened in 2015 is that in September the first academic article written by a Museum staff member was published. The team at MOWT plays such a big role in making the Museum what it is. A picture of the team taken outside of the Museum on December 23, 2015 is shown in Figure 6.
In the front row, from left to right, are: Tracy Dickson: Operations Director, Crystal Neihoff: Development Director, Kristin Martin: Education Director, Jordan Page: Marketing Assistant
Future Changes for the Museum
Here in 2016, MOWT is on the brink of change once again. The end of 2015 left the Museum with new plans, and new directions. Some changes are already scheduled such as a long overdue curatorial storage expansion and the acquisition of new shelves and cabinets. These improvements will require support from the community. The support from their visitors is already there: the Museum of World Treasures is the highest rated museum in Wichita on Tripadvisor. We need your continued support. MOWT is a treasure for Wichita so don’t forget to do your best for your Museum.
The Museum of World Treasures will always strive to improve itself. New artifacts will be obtained. Permanent exhibits will always have to be improved and touched up and rotating galleries will always allow for new exhibits.