A traveling exhibit will arrive in time for Veterans Day in Brown County to showcase the role Americans played during the Depression, World War II and beyond.
“Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation” opens Nov. 10 at the Frances Sewell Plamann History Center, 701 Oregon St. in Hiawatha, Kan., and runs through Jan. 4. The Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City is serving as facilitator of the National Endowment for the Humanities program in an initiative known as NEH on the Road.
The self-guided exhibit itself was organized by the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. It features stories from the people of the generation born in the 1910s and 1920s who experienced the Depression and World War II.
Brown County Historical Society Director Eric Oldham said he started planning for the exhibit two years ago after hearing about it at the Kansas Museum Association’s annual conference.
“I personally met and spoke with the persons who designed this program,” Mr. Oldham said. “It shows how those events affected that generation” and its successive generations, he said.
“We can make connections to more recent events,” he said of the exhibit’s intent. “That gives us an idea how they felt.”
The project includes panels of photographs and texts of viewpoints from the era. The change of entertainment from radio to television also will be depicted. There are plans to add memorabilia from World War II, and a video will be available to visitors. The society’s headquarters once housed a fallout shelter.
“There will be objects to see from that time period,” Mr. Oldham said. “There’s a miniature soda fountain with the circular seats.”
The society will add a series of speakers during the exhibition’s run, covering World War II air bases in Kansas, girl swing bands and war propaganda posters.
Tours are designed for an individual pace that Mr. Oldham said could last 10 to 15 minutes or potentially an hour. The society will provide volunteers to sit with the exhibit.
Hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. The opening afternoon will be the lone time that tours will be offered on a Sunday.
Other NEH traveling exhibits will be sponsored by the society in the next few years. “Bison-American Icon” will be featured in April and May. “Wild Land, Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Painting” is planned for the spring of 2015, but also will appear at the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library in St. Joseph next spring. “House and Home” has been scheduled for 2016 by the society, which hosted NEH’s “Farm Life” in spring 2012.
Abby Dean, the alliance’s program communications manager, said the current federal government shutdown will not affect any venues already booked for NEH exhibitions.
Call the society at (785) 742-3330 for more information.