Kansas Collectors - Part 7
Everyone Needs a Hobby
Working Together: Collectors and Museums
"A curator has to know a little bit about everything, but a collector can know everything about one field."
- Bob Puckett, museum director
Museums often benefit from the generosity of private collectors. The collector offers the museum an opportunity to obtain rare or interesting pieces that it may not have acquired otherwise. Because museums are charged with collecting a wide variety of material, the collector's knowledge about a specific topic is invaluable.
The following are collections made by people with connections to Kansas. Many of these collections are already in museums; they help us to tell the story of our state and its people.
"Collectors are kind of weird people, you know. We start collecting one thing, and pretty soon we are collecting another, and then another, and then…you just don't know when to stop. And you run out of money!"
- Louis, Garden City
Louis has been collecting Mexican folk art for nearly 30 years (top, left). It began when he found a Mexican clay piece in his aunt's belongings. Louis loans pieces to schools for educational programs and has donated works to the Finney County Historical Society. He plans to donate the entire collection someday.
Louis jokes about the craziness of collectors and says it can become an obsession. Despite the jokes, Louis is dedicated to making his collection available to the community.
Tinker Osage Collection
The relationship between Chief Sylvester Tinker and the Kansas Historical Society illustrates how museums can benefit from the efforts of private collectors.
Tinker, a member of the Osage Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, lived on the Osage Reservation all of his life and became a prominent figure in the tribe. He saved family heirlooms and acquired Osage and other Native American pieces throughout his life. Included in this excellent collection are several 20th century dance costumes and other ceremonial clothing, games, musical instruments, cradleboards, and photographs.
Chief Tinker felt that the state of Oklahoma wasn't always fair to Native Americans. He believed his collection should be donated to a Kansas museum and gave it to the Society in 1987. The Tinker collection is considered one of largest assemblages of 20th century Osage dance attire in public ownership.
Goebel Santa Fe Collection
The railroad played an important role in settling Kansas and shaping its history. Therefore, the Society was happy to accept Charles "Bud" Goebel's impressive railroad collection.
Bud was an employee of the Santa Fe Railway for nearly 46 years. His collection was actually started by his 14-year-old son Kenneth. Unfortunately, Kenneth died when he was 22; ten years passed before Bud added any pieces to the collection.
Bud's collection later became so large that in 1963 he opened a museum in a portion of the Santa Fe depot at Burlingame. That's Bud standing at the entrance to his museum (bottom, right). The museum was closed in 1981 and approximately 4,043 objects were turned over to the Society.
Reichart Archeology Collection
"He's a natural educator."
- Virginia Wulfkuhle, Kansas Historical Society archeologist
Active relationships between collectors and museums can be mutually beneficial. Milton Reichart, a self-taught naturalist, represents the very best type of amateur archeologist. He has been diligent in the documentation of his work and has made the material available to the public by donating artifacts to the Society.
In addition to donating artifacts (all of which come from around Lake Perry), Reichart has turned over his maps and data. He has also published his work in local journals such as the Kansas Anthropologist and Kansas Preservation.
Milton is respectful of sites and never digs without professional archeologists. He has been attending the Kansas Archeology Training Program since its inception in 1974 (see photo, bottom left, of Milton conducting fieldwork). He never hesitates to share his knowledge about archeology or the natural environment with other participants.
This concludes the Kansas Museum of History's online exhibit, Everyone Needs a Hobby: Kansas Collectors and Collecting.
- The Museum: The House of Muses
- The Drive to Collect
- Bringing People Together
- Living With a Collection
- Collecting as Play
- Collection as Investment
- Working Together: Collectors & Museums
Contact us at KansasMuseum@kshs.org