Housed in the beautiful and historic Calvary Baptist Church Building, The Kansas African American Museum seeks to make the Kansas African American experience resonant with every Kansan. The museum strives to become the premier place where the community comes to learn about and tell the Kansas African American story.
This important story is told through educational programs, community outreach and special exhibits that are intended to engage people of all ages. This story remains relevant today and it is one that must be told to future generations.
The museum’s board of directors and its staff are seeking to make it a place to find education and empowerment through the lessons of history; a place of transformation for visitors; a resource for history and genealogy; and a home for the care, preservation and display of important cultural artifacts and a collection of art valued at more than $1 million.
The Kansas African American Museum offers a new exhibition in its main gallery every three to four months and prides itself in providing residents of Wichita, the south-central region and Kansas, as well as tourists from all over the world, with events and programming that encourages shared history and inclusive activism. I encourage you to mark your calendar for a wonderful celebration at the museum June 30 dealing with the exploration of the history of the Blues musical genre and serving as the official kickoff of the Kansas African American History Trail. The trail is funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
During this time of transition following Mark McCormick’s resignation as the wonderfully talented and dedicated executive director to accept another professional opportunity in Overland Park, I have been tasked by the board of directors to serve as interim executive director. I am honored and humbled by this opportunity of service and commitment. As the museum board conducts a search process for a new executive director, I want to assure museum members, donors, friends and supporters that we will continue to fulfill its mission and that it will continue in its effort to honor those who blazed paths in the past; educate those who follow in their footsteps; and inform and motivate those who seek to blaze new horizons in the future.
There are challenges, but challenges bring opportunity. With vision, hard work and your support (of time, talent and treasure), we can, and will, make The Kansas African American Museum an even more important part of our city, state and region.
Ted Ayres, vice president and general counsel emeritus at Wichita State University, is interim executive director of The Kansas African American Museum in Wichita.