Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Museum reopens with lessons for young, old

April 4, 2007

The trip to Tonganoxie Museum's open house this past weekend held some personal lessons for Sydney and Samantha Angell.

Their grandmother, Janet Angell, took the girls around to each exhibit, giving them a brief history and telling them facts about each item.

"It would be interesting for any child, especially as they get older and they get to pick up on certain things," Angell said. "It's very educational and it's fun for them. They enjoy it."

The girls listened intently to their grandma as she described the artifacts, which included pictures of their family history: pictures of Fred Angell at Fred Angell's barber shop, and a picture of the Angell Hotel.

While the girls were listening and being fairly patient, you could see they couldn't wait to get to one of their favorite exhibits, Maybelle the Cow.

Samantha, 6, likes to swing Maybelle's rope tail, pretending she is swatting away flies. Sydney said she liked the cow for a particular reason -- an innocent reason only a 3-year-old could -- "it has a poop."

Pictures and cow pies were only among some of the artifacts on display at this year's open house, which marks the fourth year the museum has opened to the public since its grand opening in 2003.

This year the museum added a new exhibit featuring news articles, photos and other memorabilia related to John McKone, a local man who's RB-47 was shot down by the Soviets in the early 1960s. McKone was held captive and then released.

Besides the McKone exhibit, the museum, located inside the Fairchild-Knox barn, has exhibits with artifacts relating to government, family, leisure, farming, business, school and churches.

Susy Ross, the museum's volunteer director and curator, said she was happy about being able to preserve and share the history of Tonganoxie and the community with others.

She said the third-grade students that visit the museum on field trips love their time there.

"They love the Indian exhibit," Ross said. "They leave talking about the Tonganoxie and Delaware Indians."

Other community exhibits are the Reno Methodist Church, which was moved from Reno to its current location in 1994 to be saved from destruction. If the church looks familiar, you may be remembering it from Michael Landon's 1990 made-for-TV movie "Where Pigeons Go to Die."

The one-room Honey Valley School on display was also moved to its current location in the early '90s for preservation.

Ross was excited with Sunday's turnout and said it was probably the biggest open house the museum has had.

"Every year we get more that come," said Ross. "A lot of the people don't know we are here."

The museum will now be open from 9 a.m. to noon every Wednesday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays until October.

After October, the museum will be open on Wednesdays at the same time or by appointment.

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