Smithsonian exhibit opens in Lyons

Baldwin City Lumberyard Arts Center Enlarge photo

September 10, 2012

Lyons — The giant gears are set up, and the hard hats are on display.

The Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit honoring American workers during the last 150 years is ready to educate at the Coronado Quivira Museum in Lyons.

The exhibit is adapted from one by the National Archives, with photos from the National Archives collections. It explores how work became an element in American culture by tracing changes that affected the workforce, according to

The exhibit will travel to five other Kansas towns of populations of less than 20,000, including Baldwin City. It will be on display from March 23 to May 5 at the Lumberyard Arts Center.

“This is a chance to see a Smithsonian exhibit almost in your backyard,” said Tracy Quillin, director of communications for the Kansas Humanities Council. “It’s without having to travel to one of the larger metropolitan areas or even Washington, D.C.”

Maggie Carlson, director/curator of the Coronado Quivira Museum in Lyons, was giddy as she helped set up portions of the exhibit Thursday morning. The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, was in her building.

“I almost can’t put it into words,” she said. “To see it finally come up and to see it finally come together is the culmination of a year’s worth of work. To finally get it done — it is exciting.”

Six host sites from across the state met with Tara Andris, program coordinator of the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street, to get instructions on how to set up and dismantle “The Way We Worked” display.

About an hour after curators started working on the display Thursday, the pieces were put together.

“This came up so much faster than our other one,” Carlson said. “Our other one took 12 hours.”

An exhibit on Rice County salt miners, called “By the Sweat of Their Brows: The Men, Mechanics and Science of Salt” will coincide with the Smithsonian exhibit. Both are on display now.

The grand opening for the Coronado Quivira Museum’s newest display is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at the museum, 105 W. Lyons St.

Each host site will have an exhibit about local workers, including the oil and gas industry in Hugoton.

“People will come to see the Smithsonian exhibit, but they will leave talking about the local exhibit,” Quillin said.

The Kansas Humanities Council partnered with the Smithsonian to bring the exhibit to Kansas, with support from the Ross and Marianna Beach Foundation.

The council received applications from 36 sites, but only six were chosen. Each town was required to have a population of less than 20,000.

“It was difficult to choose,” Quillin said. “The topic appealed to so many communities.”

While some communities will not get the traveling exhibit, they may still have displays on local workers to partner with the exhibit with a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council.

There are also special speakers, book discussions and more that will coincide with the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit. Learn more at or call (785) 357-0359.

The exhibit will be in central Kansas only until Oct. 21, and Carlson encourages people of all ages to come. The price for student groups outside of Rice County was lowered in time for the Smithsonian display to $1 per student, school group chaperones are free.

“It’s a bargain price,” Carlson said.

The local and Smithsonian displays are interactive for cellphone users, with QR codes and phone numbers people may call to find out more about each display.

After the displays are packed up, David Kreider, with the Kauffman Museum at Bethel College in North Newton, will take the display to the next stop.

The exhibits are on display across the state until June 23, 2013.

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