Kauffman Museum will open a new exhibit about the very ground on which it sits next week.
"Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West" opens Dec. 19 and will be on exhibit through April 1, 2018.
"The Chisholm Trail went right through the Bethel College campus and the museum grounds," said Kristin Schmidt, museum assistant.
Designed and produced by Flint Hills Design of North Newton in a collaboration with Symphony in the Flint Hills, "Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West" covers the formation of the path that cattle drives took from Texas to northern Kansas, the influence it had on the area and the cultural impact that is still visible today.
"It's the 150th anniversary of the trail, so that's what got the exhibit going," Schmidt said.
Life-size longhorn cattle shapes anchor the center of the exhibit's space, while western movies featuring cowboys of the cattle drive era play on one wall panel. An interactive audio component lets visitors listen to "The Old Chisholm Trail," a song sung by Yodeling Slim Clark.
Items of cowboy wear, including a hat, chaps, boots and spurs are hung on one panel of "Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West." Graphics show the route the cattle herders followed and the order they generally rode in as they traveled northwards.
Other pieces for viewing include items commonly associated with the period, including a saddle, dime novel and stereograph viewer. A branding iron and Dutch oven can also be seen as part of the exhibit.
A part of Chisholm Trail history can be seen outside Kauffman Museum as well. Swales — depressions in the natural landscape — are visible in the park area north of the museum.
Having "Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West" at the museum gives visitors a chance to learn about the history right under their feet.
"It's right here," Schmidt said. "This exhibit is on the trail."
The Kauffman Museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the intersection of 27th St. and Main in North Newton. Admission to the museum is $4 for adults and $2 for children 6 to 16.
For more information about Kauffman Museum and its exhibits, visit https://kauffman.bethelks.edu or call 316-283-1612.