Helping preserve the rich history of Douglas County, Kansas

The Douglas County Historical Society, a non-profit organization established in 1933, preserves the heritage of Douglas County and encourages civic engagement by sharing stories of the people and events that have shaped our communities. Since 1975, the Society has operated the Watkins Museum of History. The Watkins Museum, housed in the 1888 Watkins Land Mortgage and National Bank Building, provides educational resources and activities, programs and public events, and changing exhibits that explore the heritage of Douglas County and connect the past with issues that affect our communities today.

Watkins Museum of History
Admission is Free!

Museum and Book Shop Hours

April–November
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday:
10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
December–March
Tuesday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Monday and Holidays

Coming Events
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Trivia Night: Love and Marriage
7-9 PM. $10 per person, reservations encouraged

Friday, February 27, 2015
Final Friday
6-8 PM. Free.

Support Watkins Museum

Use the convenient PayPal button below, to help support the programs provided by the Watkins Museum.

Membership in the Douglas County Historical Society supports the museum and offers inside information and members-only programs. Join Today!


How to Find Us

Map

View Watkins Museum of History
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Freedom's Frontier Heritage Area
The Watkins Museum is a partner in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area
 
  • New Permanent Exhibit Opens

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    A new permanent exhibit, installed on the museum’s second floor opened August 17 to record crowds.

    New Exhibit Rendering
  • Quantrill’s Raid Artifacts

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    View an exhibit of artifacts from Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence.

    Raid Artifacts
  • New Permanent Exhibit Opens

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    Another view of the new permanent exhibit exploring Douglas County heritage that opened August 17, 2013.

    New Exhibit Rendering
  • The Watkins Building

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    The Museum is housed in the historic Watkins Building in downtown Lawrence, Kansas.

    Watkins Building
  • Beer Night

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    Fresh local brews and old local history were united at Beer Night on January 19, 2013.

    Beer Night
  • The Community Room

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    The Community Room is often used for receptions, reunions and family gatherings.

    Community Room
  • The Milburn

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    See a rare Milburn electric car on display in the exhibit area of the Watkins Museum.

    The Milburn
  • More than a Game: Basketball and Community Spirit

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    Visitors explore the exhibition and discover basketball as a source of community pride and a force for social change in Douglas County..

    More than a Game
  • The Community Room

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    The Community Room is often used for receptions, reunions and family gatherings.

    community room
  • Trivia Night

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    A crowd gathers to test their knowledge at one of the Watkins’ Trivia Night events.

    paperboys

Watkins Museum and Kansas Humanities Council Announce Free Preservation Workshop

January 6, 2015

The Kansas Humanities Council and the Watkins Museum of History will present The Things They Carried Home – A Preservation Workshop for Veterans and their Families on Saturday, April 25, 9:30-11:30 a.m.  This free workshop offers an opportunity to learn how to care for items brought home from military service.  It will give special consideration to service in the Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and the Iraq Wars. 

The workshop will be led by preservation consultant, Marla Day, and Watkins Museum Curator, Brittany Keegan, who will share tips on how to preserve uniforms, medals, letters, photographs, e-mail correspondence, or other important items that soldiers carried home.  Space is limited and reservations are required by April 17.  For more information or to make reservations contact Jan Shupert-Arick at 785-841-4109 or jshupert.arick@watkinsmuseum.org.

Kansas Humanities Council

The Things They Carried Home workshops are part of Standing Together, a National Endowment for the Humanities initiative to promote understanding of the military experience and to support returning veterans.  The Watkins also thanks the Kansas Humanity Council for underwriting this workshop.

 

2015 Grants Expand Educational Programs at the Watkins Museum

Maggie Herrington Workbook Cover
Student workbook for Maggie Herrington’s Lawrence
January 5, 2015

Recently awarded grants from the Capitol Federal Foundation, the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, and the Westar Energy Foundation will support the expansion of a program for third-graders that explores concepts of community through examples from local history.  Based on the journal of a student in Lawrence in 1867, Maggie Herrington’s Lawrence helps students explore what our community was like in its early years with handling artifacts and student mapping activities.

The program may be presented at the museum or in the classroom.  Grant funds will also be used to install family-focused interactive elements in the second floor permanent exhibit.  These interactive elements, including a gallery guide, handling artifacts, and a “smelling station,” will help visitors experience the sights, and smells, of life in early Lawrence.

DCHS Receives 2015 Rice Foundation Grant

January 2, 2015

The Douglas County Historical Society has been awarded a 2015 grant by the Ethel and Raymond F. Rice Foundation.  The grant will support the museum’s active internship program.  Rice interns assist museum staff in daily operations, research exhibitions, and develop public programs.  Interns are critical to the museum’s mission of public service and continued success.  We are grateful for the Rice Foundation’s ongoing investment in the museum’s future and our efforts to develop future museum professionals.

 

Exhibitions Now on View

Doing Our Part: Lawrence During the Great War
Third Floor

La Catrina Speaks: Political Discourse and Dia de los Muertos
Second Floor

The Eldridge Dining Table:  A Relic from Early Lawrence
Second Floor

Reel Lawrence: Our Community’s Cinematic Past
Third Floor

Mass Street Merchant: The Leo Beuerman Story
Third Floor

Watkins: The Couple, the Building, the Legacy
First Floor Lobby

More than a Game:Basketball and Community Spirit
Third Floor

News
 
Community Room

Community Room is available for your receptions, birthday party or reunion. Call 1-785-841-4109 for more information.
Read more here.