The Finney County Historical Museum in Garden City will open a new exhibit in the Front Door Gallery Tuesday marking the 160th birthday of Kansas. Entitled “Ad Astra Per Aspera” after the state’s Latin motto, it tells how the admission of Kansas to the Union on Jan. 29 of 1861 helped touch off the American Civil War.
In addition, the display includes a section with 17 artistic creations by local children entitled “Images of Kansas,” designed to honor the anniversary and share each young artist’s impression of his or her home state. The work was produced through Garden City Arts, led by Executive Director Katy Guthrie.
This historical segment of the exhibit includes pictures of Abraham Lincoln raising the first 34-star American flag for Kansas at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in 1861, fiery Kansas-based abolitionist John Brown, the funeral of Civil War veteran and Garden City co-founder James Fulton and four other images. Visitors can also trace how the question of whether Kansas would accept or reject slavery became a contentious national issue, recall the “Bleeding Kansas” period of conflict and violence over the slavery question during the 1850s, and see related images.
The exhibit also incorporates a reproduction of a Kansas history map issued on the state’s 75th birthday in 1936, offers a chance to learn the story behind the state flag and read about the development and selection of “Home on the Range” as the state’s official song.
Garden City children with 8.5 by 11-inch art images in the display include McKynlie, Emma, Reece and Shelby Armstrong, ages 4, 9, 6 and 14 respectively; Demetria and Judah Cundiff, ages 6 and 8; Keagan, Adelyn and Kendall Dick, ages 10, 5 and 8; Amari and Alexa Goodman, ages 6 and 9; Sophia I., age 10; James Montez, 9; Auden Salas, 9; Matthew and Maddison Wasinger, 5 and 9; and Maddex Wells, also 9. Their work represents the third exhibit partnership between the Finney County Historical Society and Garden City Arts in recent years.
The front door gallery is a small space just inside the museum’s main entrance where exhibits change repeatedly throughout the year. “Ad Astra Per Aspera” is the first display of 2021 and follows five short-term exhibits in 2020. The museum is located at 403 S. Fourth Street, adjacent to the pedestrian arches at Lee Richardson Zoo, and admission is free. The new exhibit will remain in place through and several weeks after the state’s birthday on Jan. 29. Various other history exhibits and the museum’s gift shop are open concurrently, all with COVID-19 precautions in place.