LAWRENCE — The natural history exhibit that brought Kansas to the world stage in 1893 is the focus of a new event at the KU Natural History Museum.
The museum will offer “Party in the Panorama: a Science Soiree for Grown-ups,” from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. The event combines food and drink with a silent auction that will feature fossil casts, electron microscope art and photographs from the Lewis Lindsay Dyche collection at the Spencer Research Library.
In addition to the auction, the event features science games and activities such as a demonstration of sound waves using fire and chance to mimic the sound of a parasaurolophus. Music will be provided by the band Truckstop Honeymoon. Foods at the event will pay homage to the international flavors of the World’s Fair. Tickets are $20 each or two for $35 and available through the KU Alumni Association, kualumni.org/panoramaparty.
Funds raised through the event will help support the future restoration of the exhibit, which was created by Dyche to represent Kansas at the 1893 World’s Fair. Dyche’s panorama of animals posed in natural settings helped draw as many as 20,000 people a day to the Kansas pavilion at the fair.
“Few people realize the significance or the age of the exhibit,” said Leonard Krishtalka, director of the KU Biodiversity Institute, which includes the museum. “It is one of the largest dioramas in the world. We hope to preserve this university treasure and bring it into new relevance for future generations.”
The museum began raising funds for the exhibit in October 2012, when KU alumni Kent and Janet Martin McKinney of Kerrville, Texas, contributed a challenge grant of $50,000. Dozens of donors matched their gift to raise a total of $102,000, which will be used to conduct a conservation assessment.
Tuckerbrook Conservation LLC, of Lincolnville, Maine, has been selected to document the condition of the taxidermied mounts that Dyche and later museum staff created. The assessment will begin in March 2014.
Over time, the animal hides have faded, and skins of some mounts, such as the walrus, have large, visible cracks. If nothing is done to repair the damage or halt further deterioration, the exhibit will eventually fall apart.
Additional information about the exhibit and the "Party in the Panorama" can be found here.
Contributions will count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.