The Garden City Telegram
5/2/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Historic entry

New gallery another way for museum to stay fresh.

At the Finney County Historical Museum, something new will spotlight something historic.

The local attraction had added the Front Door Gallery, a new feature just inside the museum entrance. An opening reception is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, with a brief program planned at 2:30.

The public is invited to learn more about the new gallery, described by museum staff as "a small space to share big ideas."

Those who take in the new gallery will find its first offering to be an interesting and timely exhibit in "Celebration of Culture: Colors and Icons from Mexico." A collection of contemporary items on loan, the exhibit represents a fitting way to introduce the new Front Door Gallery in a community with a diverse population that includes a significant number of Mexican immigrants and their descendants.

Consider the unveiling a prelude to the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. If any community knows how an immigrant population can evolve over time, and the lasting impact of their families and contributions, it's Garden City.

Immigrants — many from Mexico — started flocking to the region early in the 20th century to help build the railroad. From there, they found work in sugar beet fields, other farm fields and, more recently, meatpacking plants.

Such history continues to be well chronicled locally. Of course, it's just one chapter in a community rich with fascinating history, and the stories that tell how people and events helped shape Garden City and Finney County abound at the local museum.

When museum visitors get past the new Front Door Gallery, they also may take in the usual outstanding historical exhibits with local flavor: "Spirit of the Plains," "C.J. 'Buffalo' Jones ... Last of the Plainsmen," "Celebrate Kansas," "Take Stock in Finney County," "Finney County Agriculture" and more.

As for the "Celebration of Culture: Colors and Icons from Mexico," it's just the first of more Front Door Gallery mini-exhibits to come.

Kudos to museum staff for finding another way to improve a museum that already does a fine job of spotlighting relevant artifacts and staying fresh in its appeal.