HAYS — It is home to the Thomas County Historical Society, replete with items of local interest and genealogical information.
But the collections that were gathered by a former Colby resident set the Prairie Museum of Art and History apart.
And that's before stepping foot outside the museum onto the 24-acre grounds that include a sod house — complete with cactus growing on the roof — a one-room school, a country church and a 1930s-style farmstead.
But it's the biggest barn in Kansas that beckons many travelers to leave I-70. The Cooper Barn is massive, and was named one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas Architecture.
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For a time, the William Thomas barn near Woodston was 16 feet taller than the Cooper Barn at Colby, but it was lost in a fire. Out of respect, the Thomas County folks have carefully crafted how they describe the barn.
But it is enough to draw people in.
Chris Maxey and his wife, Charlie, from Portland, Ore., were en route to Texas recently when they decided to stop for a visit.
"The largest barn in Kansas," Maxey said of what prompted them to stop.
From the outside, they weren't especially impressed.
Once inside the loft they were wowed by the size of it.
The barn had been moved — in one piece — from a point about 16 miles northeast of Colby to the museum grounds.
Inside the museum, it's the Kuska collection that shines — gathered through the years by Nellie Kuska, a Hill City native who married Joe Kuska, an agronomist at the Kansas State University Research-Extension Center at Colby.
After retirement, the Kuskas moved to California.
When Nellie Kuska died, museum director Sue Taylor said, there were a number of California museums that had the chance to obtain the collection, but they wanted to pick and choose what they took.
The Prairie Museum was willing to take the entire collection.
"It is the collection that sets us apart," Taylor said.
Dolls of all types are included in the collection, as are ceramics and glass pieces.
"Her collection was very eclectic," said Rosanne Dougherty, program director for the museum.
It filled Nellie Kuska's house, even lining the stairway leading to the second floor of her home.
"I don't think so," Dougherty said.
Today, the collection draws about 10,000 visitors a year from around the world, including Bob Kinnane of Townsville, Australia, who was visiting friends in the United States.
The Kuska collection makes up three-fourths of the museum's holdings.
But Nellie Kuska did not keep close track of her collecting.
"It took them five years to describe the collection," Taylor said. "It was during the '30s, and they were having lots and lots of estate sales. So she got things very cheaply."