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McPherson Museum & Arts Foundation Awarded $50K Grant for Native American Exhibit


By Brenna Eller


McPHERSON, Kan. — The McPherson Museum & Arts Foundation received a $50,000 check from Kansas Tourism of the Kansas Department of Commerce today.

The museum was one of 14 recipients of the 2023 Attraction Development Grant.  The grant will fund a Native American exhibit, which the museum had proposed to Kansas Tourism. 

Local donors to the project also include the Mingenback Foundation, Steve and Marlene Gray, and Peoples Bank according to Tyler Glidden, Executive Director of the McPherson Museum & Arts Foundation.

“We are very grateful for everyone who has helped make this happen,” Glidden said.

The new exhibit will feature the indigenous people of the McPherson area and will talk about who they were, how they lived, where they went, and what they left behind. The exhibit will also feature a large collection of both prehistoric and contemporary pottery from the southwest according to Glidden.

Bridgette Jobe, Director of the Kansas Tourism Division at the Kansas Department of Commerce was present today to deliver the check to the museum. 

“With the Attraction Development Grants, we’re looking for something that is going to bring new visitors,” Jobe said. “We want people to come to the city of McPherson. We also want people to come to Kansas.”

The McPherson Museum already has a large collection of Native American artifacts, including over 60 examples of prehistoric pottery from the Four Corners Area that date Pre-Columbian. As a contrast to the prehistoric pottery, they also have a collection of almost 100 examples of contemporary Pueblo pottery.

Some of the Pueblos represented include Taos, Acoma, San Ildefonso, Laguna, Zia, Santa Ana, Jemez, Santa Clara, San Juan, and Hopi. Several examples of Southwest basketry also compliment this part of the collection. 

The other parts of the collection include thousands of points, scrapers, knives, and other stone tools from Kansas and the Central United States that were collected by local McPherson residents over the years. They also have other hundreds of artifacts that are made from other materials besides stone (wood, bone, animal products) that are interesting and unique according to the museum.

“We love the fact that you already have the artifacts, you just needed a way to display them, and so it was really interesting to us, and we wanted to be a part of this,” Jobe said.

Glidden thanked Jobe and Kansas Tourism for providing the funds and mentioned that the museum also got some local people to step up too.

“This was the final piece to the puzzle to get started,” Glidden said.

Jobe responded saying that is the whole intent behind the Attraction Development Grant, to fill in the missing piece. 

“For the Department of Commerce, we felt that this was a project we could help do that with,” Jobe added.

Once there is a ribbon cutting for the exhibit, Jobe may come back to promote it on the state website,

“We work with media/travel writers. We can bring those in and they’re looking for stories that are unique and they are looking for stories that tell the story of Kansas,” Jobe said.

Interesting aspects about the exhibit:
  • The exhibit will share about the first people in McPherson. The first people in McPherson County were Native Americans. The first to visit were hunter-gatherer societies that made seasonal or short-term camps according to the museum. Some of their artifacts are represented in the tools mentioned above.


  • It will display/share the stories of the people who made the prehistoric pottery. (How the pottery was made, who made it, and why it is important and would be included in the narrative.) The same will be done with the contemporary Pueblo pottery, as well as a telling of the story of the Pueblos themselves.


  • The other people to mention were the ancestral Wichita who were very possibly visited by Coronado or other Spanish explores in the mid-1500s. They lived in large grass houses near the northern part of McPherson County where they raised crops such as maize, beans, and squash in addition to foraging for wild fruits and nuts. They also hunted game, but mainly bison and also took in deer, elk, and birds. Their story will be expanded on such as who they were, how they lived, where they went, and what they left behind.


For more information or to see the list of Tourism Grant Awardees, read the press release from the Kansas Department of Commerce below:

Tourism Grant Awardees Announced: Boosting Local Tourism Initiatives to Drive Economic Growth and Visitor Engagement (