Archive for Saturday, May 24, 2008

Shawnee museums, events welcome visitors

May 24, 2008

In Shawnee, visitors can find a lot of history and fun for the whole family.

Visitors to Shawnee Town, 11501 W. 57th St., will be transported 100 years back in time to a physical representation of Shawnee's days as a rural, truck farming community.

Visitors also will notice that changes are under way, as Shawnee Town is in the middle of a 10-year plan to reinterpret the site.

"We hope that they come away with the idea that the museum is expanding to better tell the story of life in Shawnee in the 1920s, when it really was a farming community, and to better put the spotlight on Shawnee's agriculture," said Laura Long, marketing coordinations manager for the museum.

Founded by citizens and the Shawnee Historical Society in 1966, the outdoor museum began as an effort to save the town jail, believed to have been built in the 1840s. More buildings were added to reflect a prairie town in the late 1800s, including several original buildings as well as some replicas.

It became the site of several community events, such as Old Shawnee Days and an annual barbecue contest. Eventually, the city of Shawnee took over operations of the museum.

In 2004, the city created a 10-year strategic plan, envisioning a museum that would reflect the community in the 1920s. Since then, the museum has been researching the era, revitalizing and enhancing its artifacts, and planning to reorganize the mock town.

Soon to come will be a working farmstead, where farmers will prepare their vegetables and fruits for market. Until the farmstead is created - which will require moving the 1877 Hart farm house and other buildings - museum staff will give tours of the plot that will become the farmstead to give people a sense of what's to come.

"We're going to work with the changes as they're happening and make it part of the information people get when visiting the museum," Long said.

Shawnee town is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, March through October. Self-guided tours are only $1 per adult and 50 cents per child. Shawnee Town can be contacted at (913) 248-2360.

More history can be found in Shawnee at the Johnson County Museum of History, 6305 Lackman Road, which focuses on the county's unique history as a suburb. Follow the county from Indian American reservation to territorial days to today's office parks, visit the special traveling exhibit, or step back into the 1950s at the All-Electric House.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit

Visitors can find a world of wonder at Wonderscope Children's Museum, 5705 Flint St., where instead of artwork and artifacts, children 10 and under can play with fun, hands-on, inter-disciplinary arts and sciences exhibits. Learn more about Wonderscope at

For more visitor information about Shawnee's dining choices, unique attractions and community celebrations, visit


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