Museum exhibit features WKCF

Garden City Telegram
The latest Front Door exhibit at the Finney County Historical Museum features the history of the Western Kansas Community Foundation.

A new short-term exhibit has opened in the Front Door Gallery at the Finney County Historical Museum in Garden City, telling the story of the Western Kansas Community Foundation on the organization’s 25th anniversary.

The WKCF was founded on May 22 of 1996 and the exhibit marking the occasion will be in place until approximately May 31.  It is entitled “Beyond Charity, Celebrating 25 years of local philanthropy by the Western Kansas Community Foundation.”   The Front Door Gallery is a small space near the museum’s entrance, where displays change four to six times each year.

Visitors will find more than 50 photographs, objects, articles, contributor quotes and additional images when they view the gallery.  Elements are arranged in chronological sections covering “A Vision for the Future” in 1996-1999; “Growing Ideas,” during the period of 2000-2014; and “Promises Live Here,” dating from 2015 to the present.  There is also a “Keeping the Promise” segment in which viewers may leave suggestions for the future, as well as a small portion devoted to philanthropy and community enhancements going back to the pioneering days of Southwest Kansas.

The WKCF, based in Garden City but serving 15 counties, works to improve the quality of life in Western Kansas by connecting programs, non-profit organizations and charities with donors who care about a variety of causes.  The foundation is governed by a volunteer board of directors and maintains more than $45 million in assets through a variety of funds.  Over the past 25 years the WKCF has issued more than $17 million in grants. 

“Our organization has built a legacy of support over the past 25 years in communities throughout Southwest Kansas, and we have been happy to work as a partner with the Finney County Museum in creating an exhibit that conveys the job we do and delves into some of the ways we carry out our mission,” said Conny Bogaard, WKCF executive director.

Using selected pages from a few of the organization’s annual reports, the display outlines WKCF endeavors such as the annual Match Day fund-raising campaign, last year’s “May Day” effort to support non-profit organizations facing COVID-related challenges, and the Women of Purpose program that was founded in 2009.  There is also information about grant-funded projects carried out by the Bad Boyz Boxing Club, Garden City Arts, the Miles of Smiles therapeutic riding program, Russell Child Development Center, Real Men Real Leaders and a number of others.  In addition, the exhibit features items ranging from the WKCF Founder’s Fund to the foundation’s co-sponsorship of the 2018 “Strangers in Town” documentary that focuses on how Garden City has successfully embraced immigration and cultural diversity.

There are more than a dozen QR codes dispersed throughout the display too.  Each lets visitors use a smart phone to scan and access Internet-based data as a supplement to the details and images shown on-site.

Viewing hours run from 1-5 p.m. seven days weekly, and admission is free.  The Front Door Gallery is located just inside the museum’s exhibit entrance at 403 S. Fourth St. in Finnup Park.  All other museum displays are accessible simultaneously.

In addition to Finney County, the WKCF serves Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Kearny, Lane, Meade, Morton, Scott, Seward, Stanton, Stevens and Wichita Counties.  After the exhibit closes in Garden City, there are plans for it to be shown at the El Quartelejo Museum in Scott City, the Stanton County Museum in Johnson and the Stauth Memorial Museum in Montezuma, with additional bookings pending.

Information about the museum is available at 620-272-3664.  Questions about the WKCF may be directed to 620-271-9484.