When planning your next meeting, Wichita can help you make it memorable with cultural experiences. With a variety of unique meeting spaces, the heart of the country certainly delivers on diverse venues and essential services, but it also offers a chance for meeting attendees to learn about the culture and history within the city.
We’ll explore cultural experiences in this blog post but check back for posts on ethnic restaurants in Wichita and festivals that celebrate culture. Get started with these unique experiences.
Keeper of the Plains
All year round, visitors can take in the iconic 44-foot-tall Keeper of the Plains statue that pays tribute to the Native Americans who lived here long before settlers arrived. The Corten steel sculpture stands at the point where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers join together in downtown Wichita. It looms tall with outstretched hands and is the most recognized symbol of the community’s Midwest traditions. He was a gift to the citizens of Wichita in 1974 to commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial, and today he gives the community and those who visit it a sense of unity, belonging and peace.
A complete renovation of the sculpture and installation of the Keeper of the Plains Plaza now brings people out each evening to see the Keeper and the "Ring of Fire," which can be viewed nightly at 7 or 9 p.m. for 15 minutes (hours vary seasonally). The ceremony is sacred to the Native people of Wichita and represents the relationship of earth, water, air and fire. The plaza also contains exhibits depicting the Plains Indians’ way of life.
Mid-America All-Indian Museum
The land between the two rivers is sacred ground to the Native American people and is also home to the Mid-America All-Indian Museum, which educates and preserves the heritage of the American Indian and also houses a museum, a gallery of nations and a gift shop. See traditional American Indian artifacts and contemporary artwork, shop for authentic clothing, jewelry, gifts and learn about Blackbear Bosin, the legendary artist who designed the Keeper of the Plains and made many other invaluable contributions to Wichita’s history.
With a unique facility overlooking the Arkansas River, the museum can accommodate 350 people in its spacious Gallery of Nations. Your attendees will love the spectacular view of the Keeper of the Plains and downtown Wichita just outside the doors of this meeting space.
The Kansas African American Museum
The minute your group walks up the stairs to the doors of The Kansas African American Museum (TKAAM) and enters into this historic and authentic Wichita museum, your attendees will know they are about to embark on a cultural journey and a trip through history.
The museum tells the story of the local African American experience in Wichita and the people who helped shape the city. It’s a regional arts and cultural museum dedicated to the education, identification, acquisition, research, collection, exhibition and preservation of art reflective of African American life and culture. It provides a culminating experience of people, pride and place. “At TKAAM, we celebrate the richness of the African American experience and its indelible influence on American culture, tradition, language, music and art that continues to define our country today,” said Denise Sherman, executive director of TKAAM. “Centered around the African American experience, the museum is a cultural hub for innovative collaboration, familial and historic storytelling, thought provoking exhibits, highly sought-after collections and interactive continuous learning.”
With two meeting rooms and a welcoming gallery to gather in, it serves as a great breakout or offsite space. The largest meeting room can accommodate 125 guests and the largest banquet room has a capacity of 100.
Groups can expect to learn more about the African American experience in Wichita and the state of Kansas through the main gallery exhibition, “Journey Through Kansas,” and others. Upon request, the visit can be led the museum’s education director or a docent. Additionally, TKAAM offers comprehensive self-guided tours, which allows visitors to learn and enjoy the exhibitions at their own pace.
Envision Art Gallery & Community Engagement Center
Envision, the nation’s premier service provider to and employer of individuals who are blind or visually impaired, has opened an inclusive and diverse art gallery in downtown Wichita's Historic Union Station – the Envision Arts Gallery and Engagement Center.
The gallery is the first national gallery primarily for artists with vision loss, championing art accessibility. Though the blind and visually impaired community tops 23 million in the U.S. (2018 National Health Interview Survey), art education and access disproportionally favor those who are sighted.
The first Envision Arts Gallery exhibition has been designed to showcase portraits of the Envision Arts program’s dedicated artists who are primarily blind or visually impaired. Highlighting their stories and success, the Main Gallery features inspiring work from 18 different artists. The Community Portrait Wall in the Patricia A. Peer Window Gallery offers an experiential exhibit in which the community can directly engage and participate in — giving an opportunity and dedicated space for conversations about accessibility, diversity, equity and inclusion.
Old Cowtown Museum
Wichita served as a trading center and meeting place for 11,000 years for nomadic people, but it wasn't until 1863 that the first permanent settlement of Wichita Indians was recorded. Shortly after, J.R. Mead became the first white settler when he opened a trading post and established the area as a base for the Chisholm Trail.
At Old Cowtown Museum, one of the oldest living history museums in the country, your group can travel back in time. Attendees will get to experience life, tools, art and furnishings of the 19th century as well as Wichita’s transformation. With three meeting spaces to choose from, plus outdoor gathering space, you’ll find just what you need to plan your next event at Old Cowtown Museum.
Wichita Historical Museum
Today, Wichita is Kansas' largest city filled with significant aviation and western heritage, arts and culture, entrepreneurs and places to dine, shop and play, but if your group wants to take a look back at some important dates in the city’s history, the Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum is a must-see.
Located in the original 1890 City Hall – with its 170-foot-tall clock tower – this museum features four floors of special and long-term exhibits examining Wichita and Sedgwick County’s rich history and cultural heritage. The museum’s collection of 70,000 artifacts includes a Wichita-built 1916 Jones Six automobile, a full-scale Victorian home interior and many other exhibits embodying the area’s vibrant history from its settlement in the 1860s to the era of aviation and electric guitars.
For more options to plan your next meeting in the heart of the country, take a look here.
Please note: Some of these images were taken before COVID-19 and may not reflect current safety protocols and local ordinances such as the wearing of face masks/coverings and social distancing.