- 1 The Wichita Art Museum
- 2 Old Cowtown Museum
- 3 The Ulrich Museum of Art
- 4 Examples of music venues
- 5 Other examples of cultural points of interest in Wichita
- 6 Examples of recurring cultural events in Wichita
Located on the Arkansas River in Kansas, USA, Wichita is the largest city in the state and both a cultural and economical hub for the region. In 2018, over 640,000 people lived in the Wichita metropolitan area.
The confluence of the Arkansas River and the Little Arkansas River has made this area a desirable spot to live since prehistoric times, and archaeological findings show that this place was inhabited as early as 3,000 BCE. When the first Spanish explorers arrived in 1541, the area was populated by the Wichita people, also known as the Quivira. During a part of the colonial period, the region was ruled by France as a part of Louisiana. In 1803, it was included in the Louisiana Purchase, and thus became a part of the United States. Wichita grew from a trading post to a city in the 19th century and became an important destination for cowboys driving cattle from Texas to the railroad stations in Kansas.
As a cultural hub for the whole region, Wichita is home to numerous museums, theaters, and other venues for cultural pursuits, and several performing arts groups are based in the city – in addition to the individual artists. Small art galleries are scattered around the city, especially in Old Town, Delano, and the south Commerce street.
The Wichita Art Museum
With over 7,000 works of art in permanent collections, The Wichita Art Museum is the largest art museum in the whole state.
Old Cowtown Museum
The Old Cowtown Museum houses and exhibits historical artifacts from the trading post and cattle town that eventually became the city of Wichita. Among other things, this 23-acre open-air museum features over 50 historic and re-created buildings.
The Ulrich Museum of Art
The Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University is a modern and contemporary art museum with over 6,300 works in its permanent collection.
Examples of music venues
- Music Theatre Wichita
- Wichita Grand Opera
- Century II Performing Arts & Convention Hall
- Orpheum Theatre
Other examples of cultural points of interest in Wichita
- The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum in the original Wichita City Hall
- The Mid-America All-Indian Center, a museum dedicated to the history and culture of Native Americans.
- The Keeper of the Plains is a 44 ft Cor-Ten steel sculpture by the Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin. Multiple informative displays about local tribes surround the base of the statue. Sometimes, the Rings of Fire fire pits surrounding the statue are lit up to illuminate it.
- The Sedgwick County Memorial Hall and Soldiers and Sailors Momument
- Museum of World Treasures
- The Great Plains Transportation Museum (focused on railroad transportation)
- The Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology at Wichita State University
- The Kansas Aviation Museum at the former Municipal Airport, near the McConnell Air Force Base
- The Wichita Gardens; 24 themed gardens located along the Arkansas River. There is, for instance, a butterfly garden and a sensory garden.
Examples of recurring cultural events in Wichita
Final Friday Gallery Crawl
During the final Friday of each month, a lot of the art galleries in Old Town, Delano, and the south Commerce street are open to the public and anyone can visit free of charge. Some of the larger museums also participate by staying open extra late this day.
The Wichita River Festival
The Wichita River Festival has been an annual occurrence since 1972. During the festival, the Old Town and Downtown areas of the city are filled with events, including cultural and historic activities, traveling exhibitions, musical entertainment, theater performances, and more. Many food courts pop-up, block parties are held, and there is usually a big flea market to explore.
The Wichita Black Arts Festival
Held in spring each year, this festival celebrates the arts, crafts, and creativity of Wichita’s African-American community. A majority of the activities take place in Central-Northeast Wichita.
The International Cultural Exhibition and Food Festival
The International Student Association at Wichita State University (WSU) arranges this annual festival on campus, and it is open to the general public. A highlight of the festival is the opportunity to sample delicious food from around the world.
RenFair & Kingdom of Calontir
The RenFair (a Renaissance fair) is held annually in Wichita in conjunction with the Kingdom of Calontir event (which is arranged by the Society for Creative Anachronism).
The Tallgrass Film Festival
During the three-day-long Tallgrass Film Festival in October, independent feature and short films from around the world are shown in Wichita.
The Wichita Public Library Academy Awards Shorts Event
Each year, the Wichita Public Library shows all the short films nominated for an Academy Award (“Oscar”) that year. This includes short documentaries, short live-action films, and short animated films. The event is free and open to the public. Some of the films are shown at the library, while others are shown at theaters and other venues around Wichita.
Wichita has been an important hub for the U.S. aviation industry ever since the 1920s, and many aviation-related events are held in or around the city every year, such as air shows and exhibitions.
The two largest events are:
- The Wichita Flight Festival, for civilian aviation
- The McConnell Air Force Base Open House and Airshow, for military aviation
These two events are generally held in alternating years.