Archive for Saturday, July 1, 2006

Museum response

July 1, 2006


To the editor:

I Thank Megan Helm for expressing her concerns about the Watkins Community Museum of History, but her letter contains some errors:

¢ The exhibits at the Kansas Museum of History are designed and installed by the museum staff, not by Kansas University people.

¢ The Douglas County Historical Society does not have a president, but rather a chairman. Information about DCHS may be found at

¢ I am the director of the museum studies program at KU, but my term of service as DCHS board chairman ended in December 2005.

¢ The KU museum studies program does make use of the Watkins Museum for training students. The museum professional staff members are all graduates of the KU program and have provided many training opportunities for KU museum studies students.

The current staff have made tremendous improvements in the museum, many not obvious to visitors, but all critically important for the future. Both the Watkins Museum staff and the DCHS board want to improve the museum exhibits, but this takes money. Douglas County and the DCHS provide base support for the museum, but not sufficient funds for the kinds of exhibits Ms. Helm would like to see. For this, the museum needs more support from the community, from both corporate donors and individual donors. I invite Ms. Helm to join the DCHS and work with us to help the Watkins Community Museum of History be the museum we all want it to be.

John E. Simmons,



Kookamooka 11 years, 10 months ago

I read that letter differently. I thought she said, if you don't have the money to make more special exhibits get out of the exhibit business. Does that facility HAVE to be a museum?

I agree with her that reinstating the old kids area by just cleaning it up and putting it back would be better than nothing.

TopekaBlade 11 years, 9 months ago

The last statement in the original letter is this:

"If the leaders don't value or know how to prepare excellently curated exhibits they should find a creative visionary who can, or become a center solely for research and preservation."

From the contents of the rest of the letter, I take it she wants to see better exhibits first, and become a research facility as a last resort.

Problem is, I think she wants world-class exhibits, but doesn't have an honest idea what that takes.

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