By CRISTINA JANNEY
LOGAN — The Hansen Museum is putting the finishing touches on a more than $3 million renovation of its facilities and exhibits.
The museum opened in 1972 in Logan. The renovation was funded by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. The museum's operating costs are primarily covered by the foundation, and the museum has a section dedicated to Dane G. Hansen and his contributions to the region.
Hansen lived in Logan between 1883 and 1965. He was owned and operated both Hansen Construction Co. and was among the largest independent operators in Kansas. He was also active in the Republican Party, although never sought office himself.
Although the museum has been steadily maintained since its opening, the current renovation, which began in 2019, was the first major overhaul of the building and its exhibits since its opening, said Shari Buss, museum director.
"It has been really well cared for. The maintenance schedules have been very strictly followed, so it didn't look terrible, but we just noticed things that were falling apart," Buss said.
The museum contracted with Dimensional Innovations of Kansas City to oversea the renovation.
Art galleries, community room
The art gallery and community room stayed primarily the same. Carpet and wall coverings were replaced, and a new drop-down ceiling with LED lighting was installed.
The art gallery showcases rotating art exhibits, and the community room displays art from the museum's permanent exhibit, as well as features a rotating artist of the month.
The museum's 44th annual student art show kicks off Friday and will run through April 18. It will feature art from students in Norton, Phillipsburg, Smith Center, Hill City, Trego County, Pike Valley and at Thomas More Prep-Marian.
The Hansen family history section of the museum was substantially changed, Buss said.
A new vertical welcome kiosk tells of museum's origins, past events and future activities.
A round seating area with kiosk and display cases tells the history of the Hansen family. The areas dedicated to Dane G. Hansen's sister, Kate, who was a missionary to Japan were also rebuilt as was the area that holds the museum's firearm, knife and coin collections.
An exhibit depicting Dane G. Hansen's office also has been reconfigured.
With exhibits remodeled, Buss said people are noticing items in the permanent collection they never noticed before.
"People who have been here before will say, 'I haven't seen that before,' " Buss said. "The Charles Rogers painting has always been here, but I think it pops off the blue, and the lighting is a little bit better. [People will say,] 'Kate's dishes are so pretty, I just don't remember seeing them before.' "
Money was also invested in the museum's physical plant.
The museum had started to have problems with some leaks in the roof. It replaced its roof, windows and HVAC system.
The new HVAC system resulted in a dramatic drop in the museum's utility bills, so much so the gas company came to inspect the system to make sure the meter was working correctly.
The rock exterior was cleaned and caulked.
A new electronic sign was added. The previous sign only provided the time and temperature, whereas the new board will be able to feature messages about museum exhibits and events.
The museum's office space and work space was moved and reconfigured, which has given the museum staff more room to work with greater efficiency.
Don and Connie Werner, owners of Werner Wagon Work, Horton, constructed a covered wagon now on display on the museum grounds. The wagon is meant to commemorate Dane G. Hansen's trip to Colorado as boy.
"It was a very pivotal time in Mr. Hansen's life, because he got to look at industry in the city," Buss said. ... "He was always very mindful of how things worked and how to do things better and what people wanted because that was how his father was. ...
"Although he was only 8, it was almost a rite of passage for him, moving into the teenage years and starting to think in terms of a young man."
Although the work that was done to the physical plant of the museum was significant, even more work went in to updating the permanent exhibits at the museum.
All of the exhibit descriptions were rewritten after significant research and editing with historical accuracy and improving the museum visitor experience in mind.
"The artifacts were labeled, probably as good as they could be at the time they were put together, but to have Mr. Hansen's full story laid out before you, you really needed to have a personal tour with an employee of the museum," Buss said.
"We have laid it out so we can hit every level of museum goer," she said.
Although Logan is a bit off of the beaten path (more than an hour drive from Hays), Buss said the quality of exhibits the museum hosts draws visitors from across the region. She said much of the interest in the museum is spread through word of mouth.
"If we can get a few visitors in and excited about what we have on display, they go back out and tell others," Buss said. "Once you get people in the door, local people and people in northwest Kansas know who Mr. Hansen is and they appreciate everything the Hansen Foundation does."
The museum had a small event recently to celebrate the renovation with board trustees and others who worked on the renovation.
"The museum board is a volunteer board, and they worked tirelessly on this project. My hat's off to them," Buss said.
Museum officials hope to have a public open house at a later date. The event is being postponed over lingering pandemic concerns, Buss said.
"My first hope is more people will come in and enjoy it," Buss said of the museum now the renovation is almost complete, "more people will learn about Mr. Hansen and be inspired by his amazing story."
The Hansen Museum does not charge admission. It is open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.