K-State Libraries joins forces with five organizations to create immersive exhibit of local history
Monday, Nov. 24, 2014
MANHATTAN — Did you know that in 1920, within 24 hours of being asked to contribute $40 each, Kansas State University students pledged $76,000, or 60 percent of the total cost of Memorial Stadium?
That both heavyweight boxer Joe Louis and baseball legend Jackie Robinson were stationed at Fort Riley in 1942?
That in the runup to its construction in the early '50s, many called Tuttle Creek Dam the "Big Dam Foolishness?"
If you're an aficionado of the Little Apple, a devotee of military history or have passion for all things purple, you won't want to miss "Flint Hills Forces: The Shaping of Manhattan, Fort Riley and Kansas State University 1917-1963" at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
The exhibit, open over the holidays, is the perfect way to get out of the house and enter another era. Visitors will be immersed in the period between 1917 and 1963 when Manhattan, Fort Riley and Kansas State University experienced dramatic changes through two world wars, depression and marked population growth during the postwar years. It was a period in which the three communities became increasingly intertwined.
The exhibit itself is a considerable collaboration among several cultural institutions: the Riley County Historical Society and Museum; the U.S. Cavalry Museum, Fort Riley; the Conservation Division, DPW, Fort Riley; the Historic Costume and Textile Museum, Kansas State University; and the Richard L.D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University.
The installation includes photos — many of them life-size — and more than 200 objects, including period clothing, housewares and original advertisements. Military highlights include a life-size horse sporting a gas mask in the trenches of World War I and a large-scale photo of a Japanese submarine being paraded past the Wareham Opera House.
The Morse Department of Special Collections contributed photos and objects that document campus transformation over the decades: the creation of "K" Hill; the growth of the Kansas Cooperative Research Extension; and university sports history highlights. "Forces" also includes light-hearted moments, such as the photo of what the 1925 Royal Purple described as "Herds of girls in next to nothing gallop over the green to crown the Queen of May."
"The exhibit is especially remarkable for the extensive research and collaboration that pulled hundreds of artifacts and photos together to create an immersive experience for visitors," said Jane Schillie, curator, University Archives and Special Collections.
This project is funded in part by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting the understanding of the history, traditions and ideas that shape our lives and build community. It remains on display through Feb. 1, 2015. For more information, visit http://www.flinthillsdiscovery.org.