The Fort Scott National Historic Site invited members of the Friends of Fort Scott National Historic Site organization to a soft opening Thursday evening of a new, interactive exhibit displaying the historical impact of Bleeding Kansas and events that happened in Kansas during that time.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Holly Baker, who joined the staff at the fort just a few weeks ago and got to dive right into the project of putting in the exhibit.
The process of getting the new exhibit began four years ago when they were granted approval for federal funding. They then had to go through the long process of creating designs for the exhibit, which changed several times along the way, and ended with careful editing of each of the videos, audio and scripted portions of the exhibits.
The exhibit includes videos of six individuals representing groups of people during the Civil War era, including slave owners, slaves, Native Americans and others. Visitors may recognize two of the actors in the videos, who are Fort Scott residents.
Baker and fort superintendent Betty Boyko both said the innovative nature of the interactive exhibit could help draw more visitors to the fort, especially from younger generations. Boyko said they decided to use more advanced technology for the exhibit because it could likely be there for a few decades.
“It’s a great addition to the fort,” said Reed Hartford, president of the Friends of Fort Scott NHS, which has been in existence for about five years. “It’s so much nicer. I liked the old exhibit, but it was kind of flat and two-dimensional.”
The Friends of Fort Scott NHS organization assists the fort as a non-profit, non-governmental entity through advertising and with handling of finances, which the fort cannot do as a federal entity.
“Our goal is to support all the activities at the fort,” Hartford said.
In the near future, the exhibit will be officially opened to the public.