I was pretty excited when I was contact by an Inman Museum board member about designing the museum’s first website. (Ok, maybe I had an inside contact.) The first seven or eight years of my life were spent in Inman, so I have memories of the museum that go all the way back to sitting on Santa’s lap inside the dusty old train depot, which had been hastily decorated by a handful of elves.
Since then, and especially just in the last three to four years, the museum has been transformed from your average small-town rural museum, home to the city’s historic trinkets and documents, to an incredible complex that shows not only early Inman living, but early Kansas living.
Ralph Vogel (I said I had an inside contact…) has been a key player in this renovation, and has spent countless hours inside and outside the building restoring, constructing, dreaming and shellacking. (Read more about him in this WSU article.) Earlier this summer the board voted, behind Ralph’s back, to name the most newly renovated wing after him.
The museum’s mission statement, to tell “the story of the land, the people and the spirit that made the Inman community what it is today,” is obvious as you tour. Established in 1991, it focuses on the period in Inman’s history between 1887 and the present, and is home to over 25 attractions big (we’re talking whole farmsteads) to small. In addition to more than a dozen dioramas, display cases and exhibits, and vast collections of artifacts (read about the most recent updates in this McPherson Sentinel article), the museum boasts a life-size village square with six buildings constructed with 100-year-old materials, a restored Rock Island train depot complete with caboose, and a full early-prairie homestead, fully stocked with everything a farmer and his family would need to move in, four outbuildings and barn filled with tools and implements (and another Sentinel article).
Every time I visit, I’m never sure if my favorite part is the depot or the village square. It’s hard to choose… But it doesn’t matter. What’s easy to decide on is that this museum is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. I’m hoping that the new website — visit it at inmanmuseum.com — will garner some fresh attention, but when it comes to promoting small, nonprofit gems like this, word-of-mouth is the best marketing a guy could ask for.
I encourage you to visit the museum. It has open hours every Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., and can also be opened by appointment. The best part: It’s completely free! If you are interested antiques, early prairie settlers, agriculture, sociology, military, toys, medicine, locomotives or just history in general, you’ll easily find something of note at the Inman Museum.