LARNED — The Santa Fe Trail Center Museum has hired Richard Lartz for a limited term position as the exhibit designer for the East Gallery renovation. Museum director Becca Hiller said it is expected to take 12-18 months to complete the work.
The museum, located 2 miles west of Larned on K-156, is dedicated to the historic commerce route known as the Santa Fe Trail and the effect of Westward Expansion on central Kansas. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Lartz comes to Pawnee County from Wyoming. He earned a master’s degree in public history from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in 2014.
“Richard has got some great ideas, building on ideas that we already had in place,” Hiller commented.
The museum has been working on gallery renovation, but until now there wasn’t one person who could focus exclusively on that project. Along with designing and building exhibits, Lartz is responsible for deciding what artifacts go into the exhibits.
“This has been an ongoing project for several years,” Hiller said. The Go the Distance Fund Drive was spearheaded by Elaine Mull, Keith Mull and Larry Carr, who recognized the need for updated interpretation and exhibits in the museum. This effort has raised money for the renovation, new lighting in the exhibit spaces and traveling exhibits.
Even before Lartz joined the staff on June 3, much had been accomplished, Hiller said. The lights in the museum have been replaced with LED motion activated lights, the old East Gallery exhibits were disassembled, and the Hispanic Trader exhibit in the lobby was moved to the East Gallery.
In addition, project team members Bev Howell, Hiller and Monte Martin – with Dallas-based Martin & Martin Design – have developed basic concept ideas and storylines. Doug Springer has also built some of the new exhibit pieces.
“Richard has a big job ahead of him,” Hiller said. “He is responsible for building on what has already been accomplished and bringing the team’s vision to fruition.”
The Santa Fe Trail Center Museum launched a new website, SantaFeTrailCenter.org, on July 21.
Hiller said the new site is the next best thing to visiting the museum in person. It allows guests to request information or make a donation in the convenience of their homes.
Last November, the museum participated in Giving Tuesday through the Golden Belt Community Foundation. Donations made to the SFTC endowed fund were matched by a donator to use on the website.
The museum is still accepting donations for the Go the Distance Fund Drive. For more information contact Hiller at the Santa Fe Trail Center Museum, 620-285-2054.