McPherson Museum Announces Plans, Campaign

McPHERSON, KAN. – The McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation this week announced a Renew for the Future fund-raising campaign to complete and expand exhibitions, reduce building debt, and support operations of the museum, which quadrupled its space when it moved to a $4.3 million facility at 1111 E. Kansas in 2013.

The Discovery and Innovation exhibit, which is nearing completion, includes discoveries by two McPherson College professors: the world’s first synthetic diamond (verified by accepted tests of the time) created by Dr. J. Willard Hershey and meteorites uncovered by Dr. H. H. Nininger, a forerunner in the field. The exhibit will also features Ice Age fossils collected by J.Z. Gilbert, who in 1894 was the first collegiate graduate of McPherson College and one of the first to participate in large-scale excavations of the La Brea tar pits in California.

These artifacts were part of the original museum started in 1968 by the city and McPherson College, whose faculty and students had begun collecting geology and paleontology specimens as early as 1890. The museum later became the sole responsibility of the city, which fully funded it until 1998 when it became a separate nonprofit organization operated by the McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation (MMAF).

The museum now houses more than 25,000 artifacts, including memorabilia from the McPherson’s Globe Refiners basketball team which competed in the 1936 Olympics, local pioneer artifacts and a complete skeleton of a highly coveted saber tooth cat. Also on display are highlights from the McPherson Schools Art Collection, which was created by students who raised money to purchase works by Whistler, Gustave Baumann, Birger Sandzen, Albert Krehbiel and dozens of other prominent artists.

“The museum houses so much important history from the McPherson area that it’s crucial we preserve it for future generations,” said Mike Rausch, chairman of the museum board. “This fund-raising campaign will help us do that.”

Event rentals and the May move of the McPherson Convention and Visitors Bureau to the museum and creation of a Regional Kansas Travel Center help offset some of the $22,000 in monthly expenses, but more funds are needed to continue quality exhibits and programs for the community, according to Rausch.

The Renew for the Future campaign is supported by a $1 million matching gift donated by a longtime McPherson couple who wishes to remain anonymous.

The museum is participating in a Progressive Dinner Party fund-raiser with the McPherson Opera House on April 26. Tickets are $50 and include wine, appetizers and live music at the museum; dinner at the Opera House; and dessert at the Well/Cake Lady. Tickets  may be purchased for the 6 to 8 p.m. event at either the museum or opera house.

In addition to its permanent railroad display, the Mid-Kansas Model Railroaders are exhibiting until May 15 the train layout previously staged at the Cedars, and Native-American woodcarvings by Robert Button of Great Bend will be on display until May 31. A wedding gown exhibit is planned for May 31 to July 17 with a Bridal Show on July 9.

Admission to the museum will be free from 1 to 5 p.m. on May 13 with an All School’s Day button. Two evening Pioneer Cooking summer camps are planned for families on June 9 and 16. A Natural Science Camp for students in fourth through eighth grades will be July 12-15.

“It’s an exciting time at the museum as we explore ways to better serve the McPherson community,” said Anna Ruxlow, director. “Our vision is to raise $1 million by the end of July. The museum will be in a better position to provide McPherson an exceptional museum with excellent exhibits, events and educational programming.”

Gifts or pledges to support the campaign may be made through the website,, or by calling 620-241-8464.

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, and $3 for seniors and students. Members are always free. ###