Mennonite Immigrant Furniture

Mennonite Immigrant Furniture:
A Migrant Tradition

Kauffman Museum’s newest permanent exhibition presents a rare collection of Mennonite immigrant furniture with origins in the Vistula Delta of present day Poland.

The exhibition contains 29 surviving handcrafted pieces of furniture that were brought by Mennonites from Prussia, Poland and south Russia to the Great Plains of North America in the 1870s and 1880s or built by their first-generation descendants. The oldest piece is a dowry chest from the Vistula Delta of Prussia dating before 1790 while the most recent piece is a teacher’s desk built in Kansas in 1910.

In 2001 the Kauffman Museum Mennonite furniture collection was designated as an official Save America’s Treasures project. Save America’s Treasures is a partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since its creation in 1998, Save America’s Treasures has identified historic places, artifacts and documents in need of immediate preservation. “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is one of only seven Save America’s Treasures projects in Kansas.

The exhibition was supported by the Kauffman Museum Association, Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning, the Herbert Funk Family, the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and the communities in which we live, and the Walter Adrian and Anna Adrian estates.

The exhibition gallery was completed in 2003 with support from the Donald Harder Trust, Kansas Department of Commerce--Travel & Tourism, patrons of the Mirror of the Martyrs Trust, Schowalter Foundation, Goodville Mutual Casualty and Kauffman Museum Association.

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