5 artifacts that might surprise you at the historical museum

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This 1916 Jones VI automobile can be viewed at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum.

The Wichita Eagle

Until May 30, admission is waived during lunch hour at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, 204 S. Main.

You’re welcome to bring a lunch bag or buy take-out from a nearby restaurant, enjoy your food and drinks in the adjacent Heritage Square park, and then walk through the museum’s four floors of exhibition space without costs.

“We want to introduce the museum to downtown residents who don’t know us,” said Eric Cale, director of the museum. “Additionally, we hope it will help nearby downtown restaurants that lack outdoor seating by providing everyone with a safe option to go out.”

Free entry is granted anytime between noon and 1:00 p.m. on weekdays and 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on weekends until the end of May. Capacity restrictions are still in place, but you can call 316-265-9314 for a reservation to guarantee entry.

Wondering what to see at the museum?

The collection includes 80,000 objects relating to Wichita and the County of Sedgwick from 1865 to the present – from fashionable photographs, trade records to furniture.

Here are five artifacts you might be surprised to see on display there:

Telephone booth in operation from 1948: One of the museum’s most popular and interactive exhibits is a functional phone booth on the ground floor near the elevator. Purchased to be an accessory in a transport and communication exhibition, the booth has remained on display for the past five years and continues to showcase new generations who have otherwise not seen a phone booth or used a rotary telephone ( yes, there are instructions displayed).

There is a 2013 phone book inside the booth, although Cale said most ended up calling the cell phone of a friend or family member standing nearby.

“We even give a dime at the front desk if you need it to make a call,” he said.

1935 American National Lincoln tandem pedal car: This is just one of 45 pedal cars in the temporary “Metal to the Pedal” exhibition on display at the Slawson Gallery on the fourth floor until the end of summer. The history of the automobile was reflected in the creation of miniature pedal cars designed for children.

See models spanning five decades – from a 1924 fire truck to a 1967 cherry red Ford Mustang – all from Wichitan Bob Guenthner’s personal collection. Among the gems: the 1935 American National Lincoln tandem car, a 1931 Gendron Packard 6-wheeler, and a 1934 American National truck that transforms into a dump truck, fire truck, tow truck, spice delivery truck or army field ambulance.

Each vehicle in the exhibit is numbered and a printed gallery guide includes corresponding descriptions. Where possible, there are also photographs next to the pedal car showing the full-size vehicle they reproduce. You can access Guenthner’s guide and videos of individual cars at wichitahistory.org.

1932 Ro-Pat-In Spanish electro guitar: This instrument is listed in a book of the 150 Most Important Guitars Ever Made and was used in the world’s first documented electric guitar performances, surprisingly, right here in Wichita.

Wichita conductor Gage Brewer acquired the first pre-production electric guitars from a California inventor and played them at several performances in Wichita in October 1932. This Spanish Ro-Pat-In Electro guitar by 1932 is considered to be one of only five known. have been around since the first production run of the company now known as Rickenbacker International.

The Electro from 1932 is regularly exhibited and will be included in a new temporary exhibition inaugurated on May 7. “Turn It Up to 90! – The Electric Guitar’s 90th Anniversary and Wichita’s Global Debut ”will explore Wichita’s connection to the genesis of this most popular musical instrument, featuring dozens of historic electric guitars that are typically not on display at the museum, including a native of Wichita and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

1916 Jones Six Automobile: John J. Jones sold Model T Ford Wichitans as a local Ford dealer, then decided to build his own cars and trucks, establishing the Jones Motor Car Company in 1914 at a factory on North Broadway.

The 1916 Jones Six on display in a recreated garage is a seven-passenger passenger car believed to be the only one on public display and one of the less than 10 known. One of the most interesting elements of the exhibit is video of news footage from 1979 when the vehicle was rolled onto a platform which was then lifted by a crane through a retracted window to its permanent home on the top floor of the museum.

Building from 1890: Founded in 1939, the museum has occupied the original Wichita Town Hall building since 1980. Cale considers the building, constructed between 1890 and 1892, to be the museum’s first artifact.

“It’s such a remarkable building, and many communities have lost buildings like this across Kansas,” he said.

Featuring a Richardsonian Romanesque style and designed by architects Willis Proudfoot and George Bird, the building was nicknamed the ‘Palace of the Plains’ when completed and you still hear people calling it a castle.

The best place to see everything that looks like the original interior is the Mayor’s Office exhibit on the third floor which reproduces what the office would have looked like in 1890. But the exterior of the building has some original features, including a six-story clock tower, round towers with conical roofs at each corner, Romanesque arches and carved stone details. Don’t miss the carved face above the entrance, said to be the portrait of John Carey, the mayor in 1890.

If you are going to

Address: Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, 204 S. Main

Museum opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Admission: free at noon (12 p.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. weekends) until May 30, otherwise $ 5 for adults and $ 2 for 6-12 year olds

Information: https://www.wichitahistory.org/ Capacity restrictions are still in place but you can call 316-265-9314 for a reservation to guarantee entry.

This story was originally published April 16, 2021 5:01 am.


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