The Shafer Art Gallery at Barton Community College has installed an educational display to illustrate the complex process the gallery’s namesake Gus Shafer utilized to create his famous bronze statue collection.
The exhibit was paid for through private donations from the Bill McKown estate. McKown’s generosity is recognized via signage, which names the exhibit “Bill McKown Presents: How to Make a Metal Horse.” Mckown passed away in April of 2014.
“Bill was a friend of the gallery,” Gallery Director Dave Barnes said. “Despite being wheelchair bound, he took art classes for many years at Barton and supported the Gallery with his regular attendance at all functions he was physically able to attend. A couple of years ago his graphic design work was awarded best in show at the Barton Student Exhibition.”
The exhibit was created by Chase Studios of Cedarcreek Mo., which specializes in natural history exhibit design and fabrication. It’s purpose is to offer an educational element in the Shafer Gallery.
“Providing educational opportunities to our citizens and especially to our children is one of the most important services a museum or gallery can perform,” Barnes said. “Basically, the education kiosk brings a major museum quality educational experience to the doorsteps of our classrooms and our communities.”
The impressive display has almost ceiling high artwork and large statues of horses in various stages of the sculpting process. Young visitors can interact with the kiosk at two activity stations. At one station, they can use sculpture clay to make figurines like the ones that would be created by the artist and cast into bronze at the foundry. At the other station, they can take pre-cast urethane animal figurines and place them into their matching epoxy molds mounted on the display background. Not only do these activities meet educational teaching standards but they are designed to be fun.
Barnes said the exhibit is a great way to help the gallery when it seeks out grants and other funding to continue to enhance its features and events.
“It is our intent to make the Shafer Gallery a respected and valuable cultural institution,” Barnes said. “Having interactive displays and activity stations has become one of the criteria by which museums and college galleries are judged and certified. The American Alliance of Museums has made interactive displays and activities one of its national standards and best practices for U.S. museums and galleries. In fact, grant opportunities for the Shafer Gallery will be severely limited without this important component being added.”
The display is one-of-a-kind. Since 1973, Chase Studios has designed and built thousands of exhibits for over 250 museums and nature centers, establishing a worldwide reputation for attention to detail and technical accuracy. They were chosen to produce the interpretive displays and education kiosks at the Kansas Wetlands Educational Center at Cheyenne Bottoms.
The Shafer Gallery is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the kiosk, contact Barnes at email@example.com or 620-792-9342.
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