Special Exhibits for 2014:

1st Floor – Windows on Collections

Special exhibit located at the Museum’s Main Street Entrance from October 25th through December 31, 2014.

Celebrating the “Mystery S” & Walter Beech Air Race Trophies

Celebrating the “Mystery S” – Featuring film footage taken at the Wichita Airport circa 1930

One of the legendary racing planes of the era rolled out of Wichita’s Travel Air plant in 1929. It was the result of an experimental project conducted in a restricted area of the Travel Air plant by a few employees who designed and built the plane in their spare time. Travel Air called its plane simply the Model R, but the Wichita newspapers, in reporting rumors of Walter Beech’s secret racing plane, dubbed it the “Mystery Ship” or “Mystery S.”

The special low-wing monoplane exceeded its designers’ expectations. It easily won the 1929 National Air Races in Cleveland, outdistancing all of the other entrants, including, military fighters, with an average speed of nearly 195 mph. Its red and black paint scheme was a sensation. Its reliability and spectacular performance with a top speed of 230 mph resulted in increased sales for Travel Air. The “Mystery S” had earned its place in aviation history.

“Walter Beech Air Race Trophies” – Featuring 12 Trophies

Walter Beech, a giant of aviation, began as a pilot at the dawn of the air age and ultimately created some of the era’s most successful airplanes. Beech promoted these at what some termed “Aeronautical Rodeos”. The air shows, tours, and races that occurred in the 1920s emphasized speed, reliability, safety, and aircraft design, rather than stunts and acrobatics. The sport of air racing continued in earnest into the 1930s. Pilots at the controls of Wichita made airplanes, including Swallow, Travel Air, Cessna, Stearman, and Beech models, won race after race in American and international competition and stimulated sales for the airplane companies.

Even in the darkest days of the Great Depression, enthusiastic fans turned out to watch their favorite pilots compete. These men – and increasingly, women – who loved speed, glory, and the thrill of going up against the best fliers of the day, inspired aircraft designers to develop powerful specialized planes that pushed the limits of technology, imagination and style.

2nd Floor -

The 75th Anniversary Exhibit

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Museum. With a mission to collect, preserve and educate through the interpretation of a unique collection of artifacts representing our local history, Museum staff has generated an endless variety of exhibits through the years. Museums tell stories through artifacts – material culture bearing tangible evidence of the past. The Museum has pulled out the stops for this exhibit; instead of using artifacts as a means to tell a story, this exhibit focuses on the artifacts themselves. Here you learn the history of the Historical Museum and enjoy an impressive range of seldom-seen artifacts from the Museum’s permanent collection. You will find these exhibited throughout the Museum, on all four floors.

In departure from customary exhibits, the Museum challenges visitors to identify artifacts. What are they and why are they in the Museum’s collection? Imagine the stories they might tell about local history. Have fun and submit your conclusions to the Museum by mail or by email to wschm@wichitahistory.org for recognition and prizes to be presented in September this year when the Museum publishes outcomes and reveals the actual stories behind the artifacts.

3rd Floor -

Wichita’s Modern Art Galleries of Mid-Century

Wichita, Kansas emerged as an American art center by the 1920′s as citizens organized to make visual art part of everyday life. By the 1950′s, Wichita’s avant garde abstract artists set up galleries of their own in downtown Wichita – first the indeX Gallery and then the Bottega Gallery. Join us at the Museum in the Lois Kay Walls Gallery (3rd Floor West Gallery) to learn more about the art and the artists who opened new artistic territory.

Artists included in the exhibit are Enrique Riveron, Robert M. Kiskadden, David E. Bernard, Rex Hall, Paul ‘Pablo’ Edwards, David W. Cale, James G. Davis, Eugene ‘Skip’ Harwick and Bruce McGrew.


 The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum is open Tuesday – Friday from 11am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5pm. Admission is $5.00 for adults and $2 for children 6-12. Children under 6 and Museum members are admitted free of charge.

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