The Museum of the Kansas National Guard is another one of those golden nuggets that
upon as we drove through Kansas. As an old US Air Force retiree, I was more interested in seeing
the Combat Air Museum almost within spitting distance of this museum. Little did we know what a
fantastic find this museum was to be! We totally enjoyed walking through history as this museum
laid it out. We will revisit this museum when we are in the Topeka area.
The Museum of the Kansas National Guard, located in Topeka, Kansas, is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Kansas National Guard and honoring the memories of the soldiers and airmen who, for over 145 years, have served Kansas and the United States whenever the call was made. The Museum has over 125 inside displays and 35 outside equipment displays documenting the history of the organization from virtually every conflict from the Civil War to the more recent peacekeeping actions in Bosnia.
The Museum is also home to the 35th Division Museum, which includes the 35th Division Hall of Fame. The 35th Infantry Division, formed in 1917 for WWI, received three battle streamers for battles in France--Ardennes, Alsace, and Meuse-Argonne. Mobilized in 1940 for WWII, the 35th received five additional battle streamers for distinguished service in Europe--Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe.
Within the Museum walls, the weapons, uniforms and other artifacts carried or worn by Kansas Guardsmen from the Civil War to the Gulf War are proudly displayed. These artifacts paint a picture of the Kansas citizen-soldier from the early and bloody days of the birth of our state, to today's Guard mission in a highly volatile and dangerous world.
The Museum of the Kansas National Guard became a reality on February 1, 1997, when it opened its doors for the first time. It took 12 years of work and $700,000 of donated money and time, but today the completed Museum sits near the main entrance of Forbes Field, home of several Kansas National Guard units.
In addition to the museum displays, library, and artifact storage, the 11,000 square-foot facility also houses the National Guard Association of Kansas, the Enlisted Association of the Kansas National Guard, and the 102nd Military History Detachment of the Kansas Army National Guard. This combination of occupants makes the Museum a true center for the preservation of the militia heritage of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard.
Inside, visitors can see displays of arms and equipment, including a collection of small arms weapons used by Kansas Guardmen and their enemies throughout history. Specific display cases have been set up for the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II, the 69th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, as well as several other Army and Air National Guard units.
A mock Civil War encampment, complete with artillery, provides a view of camp life in the 1860s, giving the visitor a glimpse of the uniforms and equipment used by the thousands of Kansans who volunteered for combat during the Civil War.
Weapons and other artifacts from the Spanish American War are also presented, including actual items from the famous 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, led by the heroic Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Frederick Funston of Iola, Kansas.
Surrounding the Museum building are static displays of military equipment including an M60 tank (previously-used by the Kansas Army National Guard), an 8 inch self-propelled howitzer (capable of firing Nuclear rounds), a variety of helicopters, including an OH-58 Bell Kiowa, an OH-6 Loach from the Silver Eagles (the U.S. Army's answer to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds), an AH-1 Cobra, the powerful CH-54 Skycrane, and various other equipment.
Throughout the year, occasional outdoor events are held in the area behind the Museum, including Civil War reenactments, youth events, and Kansas National Guard reunions.
The Museum also houses an extensive military research library, containing hundreds of books, and a small theater with videos featuring Guard and associated military history.
Just outside of the research library is the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame, honoring individual soldiers and airmen who have led distinguished careers or made significant contributions to the Kansas National Guard. The Hall of Fame contains Medal of Honor recipients, former Guardsmen turned Governors, war heroes, and individuals that have made an indelible mark on the Kansas National Guard.
In addition to all that is contained inside the Museum, an on-line research archives has been established to provide extensive historical information to the general public. This web site contains information and photographs on historical Kansas National Guard units and the conflicts they were involved in, past and present weapons and equipment, the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame, all Kansas Adjutants General and Kansas National Guard Medal of Honor recipients. The web site also contains a virtual tour of the Museum facilities as well as information on upcoming Museum events and activities for the public, military historians, and Kansas Guardsmen. The on-line research archives are quickly becoming a favorite stop for history buffs, as well as serious military historical scholars across the country.
Mon - Sat 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday appointments can be scheduled for special groups
The Museum of the Kansas National Guard
6700 S.W. Topeka Blvd.
main entrance of Forbes Field