Watkins Museum of History was packed this afternoon with hundreds of new patrons from across Lawrence and the state coming to view the new permanent collection. By 2 p.m. – just four hours after the exhibit’s public unveiling – Watkins Museum collections intern Cole Finley said he had counted 750 visitors.
“We are seeing record-breaking numbers,” Finley said. “It’s been a fantastic day.”
The collection follows Lawrence’s survival and growth since its abolitionist roots, with several artifacts that survived Quantrill’s Raid 150 years ago. Located on the second floor, the new exhibit inhabits the space that once housed the Watkins National Bank more than a century ago.
Watkins Museum education and programs coordinator Abby Magariel said that while the museum staff was prepared for large crowds, she was still blown away by the floods of visitors today.
“The exhibit is a huge improvement to the museum, so we were anticipating a good turnout,” Magariel said. “but this has surpassed all our expectations.”