Raymore Pioneer Museum brings community together

The Raymore Pioneer Museum has over 2000 artifacts on display. The museum recently constructed a second building for exhibits. Photo by Dawson Thompson.

One of the most popular community attractions in Raymore is the Pioneer Museum, where patrons can don a buffalo coat and riffle through books about the town’s agricultural history.

Boasting a few thousand donated artifacts the museum is an impressive site to see in a town with a population of around 650.

“The first steps to get the museum going here was in the early 1960s,” said Wayne Focht, secretary on the Board of Directors since 1995. “The museum is now run by the town, entirely on donation and volunteer work from the locals of Raymore.”

The museum’s Board of Directors is passionate about bringing its community together by preserving and displaying local artifacts to educate residents, and bring back memories for those who were there when it all began.

“The seniors really appreciate it,” said Dale Kauth, a volunteer member for the Board of Directors. “People who grew up here and moved away have come back and toured the museum.”

Focht spoke about the community’s involvement in keeping the museum running.

“We celebrate Canada Day here, for the community to come down, have a BBQ, play games and visit,” said Focht.

The first Tuesday of June marks opening day for the Pioneer Museum each year; it’s one of the busiest events of the year in Raymore because of the big bake sale that takes place.

“Most fundraising comes from the opening day cookie sale, and most of the donations go to the operating costs of the museum,” Focht said.

Kauth added that other recent donations have allowed for the opening of a large, open gazebo to host bigger functions at the museum.

The town has also built a second building next door for expansion of the many exhibits the museum has to offer. The expansion to the second building began in 2013 and is just being completed this fall.

“The Pioneer Museum has over 2,000 artifacts in the museum,” said Focht. “I’m very proud of each and every exhibit that the museum has to offer mainly because everything on display has been donated by the community.”

There is plenty of help from local businesses, too. The Raymore Credit Union has used its growing community grant to donate to the upkeep of the museum.

“The museum means quite a bit to the history of Raymore,” said Focht. “People have things they value and they want to see them on display, they feel good about that.

“Whenever someone wants to know something about the town they just come here, everyone sends them straight here.”

Some of the unique artifacts the museum has on display include history books on the development of the town and the people who have been a part of that development since 1908. There’s also a trunk from a Hungarian family who immigrated to the Raymore area, which is dated from 1897, and a large buffalo fur coat hangs for visitors to try on; it was originally used in 1929.

Author Dawson Thompson wearing the buffalo coat at the museum. Photo by Wayne Focht.

The directors understand the importance of Raymore youth being involved with the museum. They plan on revamping the museum to connect better with everyone in the community.

Focht and Kauth mentioned the Raymore School and the museum frequently organize different tours throughout the school year for the students.

“We have very interesting news clippings of the town’s history and an idea to put up a wall with all the news clippings to draw interest from the youth as they come to visit with their classes,” Kauth said. “It is important for them to keep the history alive’.

“Many of the artifacts are donated to us to be preserved. When the students come through on tours, we can show them that many of the things on display used to be their grandparents’.

The museum is open to the public 2-4 pm every Tuesday through the summer until September, but someone will always be available to come open up for a tour on special requests as well.

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