Johnson County Museum
Becoming Johnson County Exhibit
A town’s evolution in 12,500 square feet
Located in an area that was settled prior to the Civil War, Johnson County, Kansas, has a rich and storied history. Battles between settlements, racial divisions, advances in transportation and agriculture, booming industry, and the steady evolution of everyday life are some of the primary themes covered in this 12,500-square-foot space.
We worked with Becoming Johnson County Museum staff to finalize the interpretive plan, develop interactive display ideas, engineer cost-effective means to bring ideas to life, and fabricate and install a wide variety of graphic panels, artifacts, and interactive displays.
Entering the space from the second story, visitors are immediately greeted by an illuminated sign and large-scale wall graphics that outline the driving forces behind the county’s development.
“We would hire them again without hesitation for another exhibition project, big or small.”
– Mindi C. Love, Museum Director, Johnson County Museum Arts & Heritage Center
1. Transportation’s evolution played an enormous role in enabling economic growth. Adding dynamism to the space, we recreated this train and accompanying bridge using a range of substrates and finishing techniques. Also pictured are a large display platform and various artifact cases.
2. A once-iconic landmark of the community was its water tower, which we recreated by hand. The model structure stands at 15-feet tall.
3. Combinations of wall graphics, mounted graphic panels, and display cases share artifacts, stories, and unique details that helped shape the county over the years.
4. The space even includes a full-scale all-electric home in the center that visitors can tour. The 1955 Chevy, however, is not available for joyrides.
5. Community colleges quickly grew in popularity with the increased demand for typists. This interactive display attracts visitors of all generations, each for unique reasons.
Marrying an era-correct typewriter to a modern learn-to-type app was a wholesome endeavor. On top of enjoying the nostalgia, older generations revel in showing off their skills to their kids and grandkids who were raised on touchscreens.
During WWII, it was all hands on deck, and age didn’t matter. Helping create the nitroglycerin used in bombs, kids were enlisted to push a material cart from station to station. The cart was dubbed the “angel buggy” due to the lethal nature of mistakes, and this Operation®-style game helps teach both the steps involved in the process as well as the incredibly high need for attention to detail.
In addition to delivering on budget and within a tight timeline, we were proud to help the community reflect on its past, celebrate its progress, and envision its future.
Square footage: 12,972
The AASLH awarded the exhibit a Leadership in History award for exemplifying standards of excellence in its collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history.