Inside JCPRD: The Johnson County Museum and you

This colorful and retro postcard-like image welcome visitors just before the enter the museum.

By Johnson County Museum Director Mary McMurray

The Johnson County Museum is a museum on a mission. A mission to showcase Johnson County’s unique stories through collections, programs, and exhibitions. And we need your help!

You may know that we fulfill our mission through our award-winning exhibitions and programs at our primary location for visitors of all ages in the iconic Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center (formerly the King Louie West), at the site of the oldest standing schoolhouse in Kansas – the Lanesfield Historic Site, and through the stories we share on our social media, blogs, and presentations. But do you know why we do this work?

We do it for you – for our community. You see, at the Johnson County Museum, we believe studying the past is the key to making a better future. That’s why we titled the museum’s signature exhibit Becoming Johnson County. Becoming is a verb. It is active. It is not the past tense.

These large panels get the story started for the museum’s signature exhibit called “Becoming Johnson County.” Photo courtesy of Bob Greenspan Photography.

As visitors tour the exhibit, they gain a sense of understanding of our place, this time, and themselves. Near the end, visitors see questions developed to make them see themselves as part of the history. We end with these questions because it is our sincere hope that knowledge of our shared history and the people of every walk of life who helped Johnson County become one of the nation’s leading counties inspires, empowers, and emboldens visitors to march in the footsteps of those who came before us and help Johnson County continue becoming what they hope to see.

The messages woven into our signature exhibit are echoed in all of the museum’s initiatives. In KidScape, the wildly popular play-based history exhibit for kids, our youngest visitors experience a hint at life in three distinct periods of our county’s history. Our special exhibits challenge you to think more deeply about historical forces that shaped the suburban experience and the lives of those living and working in Johnson County. At Lanesfield Historic Site, visitors step back in time to learn about rural education and the town that was, then wasn’t. The museum’s programs, which range from Kids’ Day Out to summer camps, Scout Night at the Museum, to History on Tap adult programming, share our history in unique and fun ways – all offered with the hopes that knowledge of the past leads to a better future.

Now, about that help we need…

Membership in this treasured institution has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This is a challenge because museum memberships help fund the important work we do. We know that there are a number of factors driving the choice to renew a membership. So, we’ve decided to make the decision to become a member easier for you with a little incentive!

If you join or renew your membership between now and the end of the year, you will receive a custom, locally designed, limited-edition sticker. They’re perfect for your car window, reusable water bottle, laptop, or even banjo cases (yep, we’ve seen one there!)

But wait, there’s more! In addition to the sticker, members receive free admission to the museum and KidScape, discounts on museum program and events, and a 10% discount in our new Museum Store. Members are also among the first to know about all the great stuff happening at the Johnson County Museum through our monthly e-newsletter.

Most importantly, your membership tells us that you care about the work we’re doing to preserve our community’s history. Memberships start at $35 for individuals/couples, and family memberships run at $60. You can renew online at, over the phone at (913) 826-2787, or at the front desk at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. We hope you will join or renew today, and that we see you at the Johnson County Museum soon!

To learn more about the Johnson County Museum and the great work we’re doing, visit