Hatteberg's People - Maggie Carlson: Big Times At A Small Museum

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

On Hatteberg's People, you work for a year to bring an exhibit from the Smithsonian to a community that rarely sees one. Maggie Carlson made it happen. She's the director and curator of the Coronado-Quivera Museum in Lyons. A year ago she heard about a traveling Smithsonian exhibit and now her museum is the first in Kansas to have it.

"I'm a person who really believes that if you want to look to the future, you have to look to the past," Carlson said.

And that is exactly what is happening at the Coronado-Quivira Museum in Lyon's Kansas.

"This was important to me to bring the Smithsonian in here and to be able to create this nice exhibit and having the flexibility to do some things that had never been done before," she said.

History and understanding is encompassed in the people of a community. Their faces and their work, frozen by a shutter's click, are now on display for all to see.

"The Smithsonian exhibit is really going to look at work and how it became central in American culture," she said.

In Lyons in Rice County, this museum is the first museum of six in the state to host a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian called "The Way We Worked." A few days ago, all the host cities sent representatives to Lyons to see how to set up the exhibit.

Maggie says she received tons of support from the community to make this exhibit happen. The museums partnered with the Kansas Humanities Council to secure the exhibit and the rest, as they say, is history.

"The museum has always had a history of getting a lot of support from the community which has been absolutely wonderful because it has allowed us to have one of the best small museums in Kansas," Carlson said.

At the museum, a separate exhibit will also run concurrently with the Smithsonian's. It focuses on how salt mining played a huge role in the history of Lyons, Kansas.

"I think local history is a way to really relate to it. These are your parents, these are your grandparents and these are people that you actually know," she said.

So, Carlson's small town persistence pays off. Her museum is now part of the future by showing the past with the Smithsonian Institution's "The Way We Worked" and her local museum's version of the impact the Rice County salt mines had on the local community.

"When you work on something for a year, to take what was in your head and to make it real and tangible, is one of the best feelings in the world," Carlson said.

The exhibition is at the Coronado-Quivira Museum in Lyons through October 21 and then will travel on to Hugoton, Goodland, Concordia, Baldwin City and Franklin. The exhibit will not be coming to Wichita. This time, it's the smaller communities around the state that get to take advantage of the Smithsonian's educational displays.

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