New Watkins window panels tell stories of city’s past, present

photo by: Elvyn Jones

David Tong and Dana Freed read material under one of the third-floor window panels unveiled Sunday, July 22, 2018 at the Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St. The panel tells of the women's suffrage movement in Lawrence.

Sandra Wolf was impressed by what she saw during an unveiling Sunday of the nine new window panels on the third floor of the Watkins Museum of History.

“It’s very well done,” she said during the open house of the information provided on the panels that cover nine large windows on the third floor’s southern exposure. “There’s a lot of information on Lawrence history.”

Wolf said she started with the panels on industry, which told of the Bowersock Mills and Power Company.

Steve Nowak, Watkins executive director, said Wolf was taking the right approach to the panels. The photos, graphics and text on panels were designed to tell thematic stories of seven different aspects of Lawrence history and contemporary life, he said. As such, visitors to the museum can digest in bits the information on such topics as industry, communications and — Lawrence being Lawrence — basketball, and not read all nine panels at one time.

“If someone is downtown and has 15 minutes, the person could read a couple of windows and take in the rest on the next visit,” he said.

photo by: Elvyn Jones

David Tong and Dana Freed read material under one of the third-floor window panels unveiled Sunday at the Watkins Museum of History. The panel tells of the women’s suffrage movement in Lawrence.

Planning for the window panels and the use of all of the third-floor exhibit space began in 2011, Nowak said. Planning that led to the museum’s second floor being devoted to the community Bleeding Kansas and Civil War history took place at the same time, he said.

“We were thinking about stories that tell us what made Lawrence what it is today and continue to influence us today,” he said.

The unveiling of the windows ends the first phase of the exhibit upgrades planned for the third floor, Nowak said.

“It’s about a fifth of what we envision for this space,” he said. “There’s another phase planned for this fall.”


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