Making the Leap: The Future of Small Museums and Historical Societies


Bonnie Lynn-Sherow


Purpose of the Collaboration:

The Chapman Center for Rural Studies has been partnering with the Pioneer Bluffs Ranching Heritage site in Matfield Green, Kansas for approximately four years. The Chapman Center for Rural Studies was approached by the Pioneer Bluffs director to aid in preserving a large collection of mixed media for use by researchers, for social media and marketing and for public programming and interpretation of the site. In exchange, Pioneer Bluffs has welcomed student involvement in their site including accessioning and preserving the collection, creating a walking tour of the site for off-hours visitors and contributing to the interpretation of the site for the future.

Length of Partnership:

4 years

Community Partners:

Pioneer Bluffs

Community Impact:

Pioneer Bluffs has benefited from collaboration with the Chapman Center for Rural Studies through the preservation of their collections; interpretation of their site; speaker engagements at their annual meeting; and the professionalization of their membership, staff and volunteers. Several thousand individuals visit the site and public program and educational events are held throughout as a result of this collaboration with Kansas State University. Collaboration with Pioneer Bluffs is also on track to help the board and staff of the site to write a long-term sustainability plan with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, ensuring longevity of this community asset.

Institutional Partners:

Chapman Center for Rural Studies; Department of History; Colleges of Architecture, Planning, and Design and Arts and Sciences

Institutional Impact:

Pioneer Bluffs has, and will, continue to contribute to the education and experience of students who are seeking careers in public history, community development, marketing and communication and historic preservation. The Chapman Center for Rural Studies is also currently partnering with Pioneer Bluffs to develop an oral history of the Sauble Family. The partnership will produce a book publication and a presentation on this publication is anticipated for later this year.