Our Western Heritage

Our Western Heritage
Front Street, Dodge City, circa 1879

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dodge City/Ford County Tourism Plan: Major museum section

That we have a multi-hundred thousand dollar visitor center now is one point -- but that a new Kansas Heritage Center/Ford County History Museum is needed is stated about eight places in the study -- but the submitted suggestion for an actual Ford County History Museums seems missing from the study -- although proposed to Heberling Associates Inc. by several groups involved:

New Dodge City Visitor Center with exhibits

Explore the feasibility of the creation of a Dodge City-Ford County Visitor Center in the downtown cultural corridor. The center, which could share a facility with the expanded Kansas Heritage Center and/or a proposed Ford County Museum, would orient tourists to Dodge City, Ford County, and Southwest Kansas sites and experiences through front-line visitor services as well as interactive orientation kiosks and exhibits describing the region’s history and its cultural, arts, recreational, and environmental sites and attractions.

Use of empty buildings in Dodge City for exhibits

Initiate an assessment, including a market survey, of the Robinson’s complex, or a portion thereof (perhaps removing the 20th century one-story additions), for possible adaptive reuse as a heritage and arts center in the downtown cultural corridor. Uses could include artists’ studio rental space, studio space for workshops and classes (possibly including homes for various kinds of artists’ guilds), opportunities for showcasing large exhibits or exhibits of large pieces, meeting rooms, and a Ford County History Center with a collections storage area.

Use of Ford County Government Center for exhibits

The Roundup could also develop an interpretive exhibit—or series of exhibits—on its own interesting history, either in conjunction with the hall of fame or in another location, such as the lobby of the County Government Center, a Dodge City/Ford County Visitors Center, the Boot Hill Casino and Resort (or all of the above).

New Kansas Heritage Center for exhibits

USD 443 representatives should authorize a feasibility study for the development of an expanded Kansas Heritage Center and determine the best location for such a facility.

Possible sites include the former T.M. Deal Lumber Company at Third and Spruce, the old City Hall and parking lot property on top of Boot Hill between Third and Fifth Avenues on Spruce, the former Robinson’s furniture store, casino land west of town, and the Roundup Rodeo-Fairgrounds neighborhood south of downtown. There has been general agreement thus far that one of the downtown locations would be the most appropriate. Butler National has already generously donated the services of a talented architect who has prepared a very preliminary design concept and floor plan for a new KHC.

The study should also determine whether a new KHC should share a complex or be linked architecturally to a related or complementary organization’s facility, such as a Dodge City-Ford County visitors center, a Ford County Historical Society, the Genealogical Society Library, and/or a joint archival research center made up of the two-dimensional collections perhaps from the KHC, Boot Hill Museum, and County Historical Society.

The Kansas Heritage Center could provide expanded facilities for its existing educational and research service operations as well as gallery space for traveling and temporary exhibits from large to small and on all topics relevant to the history, cultural heritage, environment, and lifeways of the High Plains. It could also include spaces for public meetings and events. The KHC should avoid the temptation to become a museum that collects three-dimensional artifacts.

No actual museum in the study:

But, alas, the submitted and discussed material on an actual modern secure history museum is just not in the Dodge City Tourism Master Plan at all? Could it have been lost by Heberling Associates? Edited out?

Dodge City/Ford County, KS, Master Tourism Plan On-line

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