Route 66 News

Broadway stage manager provides face-lift to Baxter Springs museum

An alum of Baxter Springs High School in southeastern Kansas is using his talents as a stage manager on Broadway to make long-needed improvements to the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum.

According to the Joplin Globe, Brian Rardin has been working on the project for more than a year from his New York City apartment and during trips home to see his mom.

Last December, he began six months of historical research on the area’s early days, wading through piles of special collections documents, visiting New York museums and libraries, and searching online archives.

“He did graduate-level research for this,” said Larry O’Neal, a member of the Baxter Springs Historical Society and a museum volunteer.

Rardin then began assembling historical facts, maps — some never before publicly displayed — photographs and illustrations using the computer software application Photoshop. When he was finished, he sent digital files to sign makers to be produced. […]

“I just did it for the love of Baxter,” he said. “This is an amazing museum. With over 7,000 categorized artifacts — well, museums in New York City don’t even have the kinds of special collections you have here.”

Among the many improvements is this one:

In another display, he created an enlarged locator map, particularly aimed at the many out-of-state visitors the museum gets from Route 66. It is based on a 21-piece pocket map of Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, that was published in 1866.

The Baxter Springs Historical Society provided funding for Rardin’s work, but I doubt he’s getting rich from it. Rardin’s many stage credits may be found here.

The museum will host a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Baxter Springs and later massacre on Oct. 5-6.



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