The Kansas Museums Association has selected Kauffman Museum’s special exhibition “Campaign for a New China: Looking Back on Posters from the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976” for its 2019 Award of Excellence.

Bethel College seniors Elizabeth Friesen Birky, Denver, and Emma Girton, Wichita, accepted the award on behalf of the museum Nov. 8 at the KMA annual conference, held this year in Lindsborg.

The students served on the exhibit team for a museum-college collaboration course led by Rachel Epp Buller, Bethel associate professor of visual arts and design.

“Representing Kauffman Museum at the Kansas Museums Association 2019 gathering was such an honor. We were able to meet individuals from museums all over Kansas," said Girton. “As someone who has also had experience at the Wichita Art Museum, I think that having a presence in this group of elites will be very helpful for me in my future career endeavors. I am thankful to Kauffman Museum and Bethel College for providing the opportunity to make leaps and bounds in our desired career fields.”

The award nomination materials noted that “Campaign for a New China” benefited from a collaboration of experienced museum staff and young emerging professionals, representing both a local crew and consultants from the University of Kansas.

The KMA award committee recognized that this collaboration produced a successful exhibition and programs at Kauffman Museum in spring 2019.

“As a student double-majoring in art history and communication arts at Bethel College, [I’ve found] Kauffman Museum such a valuable resource in expanding my education through hands-on experience and collaborative learning and engagement with the professional staff at the museum," Girton said. “It was such a neat opportunity to be able to apply and exercise the skills I learned in my Curatorial Studies class throughout the process of creating ‘Campaign for a New China’ at Kauffman Museum.”

“Campaign for a New China” featured propaganda posters collected in 1976 by the late Robert Kreider, Bethel College professor of peace studies. The exhibit team negotiated an unusual set of challenges working with materials in a foreign language that only depicted idyllic visions of communist society.

In addition to funding from the Kauffman Museum Association, “Campaign for a New China” received a Humanities Kansas grant that supported consultants and speakers, promotional materials and supplies.

“Campaign for a New China” also received the 2019 Mountain-Plains Museums Association Publication Design Award earlier this fall.

“Campaign for a New China” is currently under development to become another Kauffman Museum traveling exhibit.

Details about the exhibition and links to the award-winning publications can be found on the museum’s website, kauffman.bethelks.edu/SpecialExhibits/CampaignForANewChina/Index.html.

For more information, contact Chuck Regier at crregier@bethelks.edu