M.T. Liggett would be proud of preservation facility

Hannah Brown
Kiowa County Signal
A visitors center in Mullinville is being built by the Kohler Foundation to house the artwork of M.T. Liggett who passed away last year. As the project nears completion, and oversight group makes plans to the attraction.

The M.T. Liggett conservation project is in the final stages of completion according to Beth Wiza, Preservation Coordinator at the Kohler Foundation. 

“We are thrilled with the progress our conservators have made in this last stretch of the project,” said Wiza. 

The process started with the items that needed the most conservation, like the whirligig, then the process moved on to the rest of the pieces. The Kohler Foundation anticipates the project will be completed in July of 2021. The Kohler Foundation is partnering with the 5.4.7. Art Center which will be the beneficiary of the completed project. The art center is developing and installing the exhibition portion of the project which will detail M.T. Liggett’s life and will be located in the visitors center in Mullinville. There will be small art pieces, memorabilia, and tools that M.T. made and/or used on display for all to see. 

When asked what her favorite part of this project was, Wiza had several things that got her excited for its completion. 

“It’s always fascinating to get to know the artist and his/her passion during a project and emotion MT’s art creates has been unique to this project. Art provokes emotion and sometimes it is positive and sometimes it is negative and MT’s art does this,” said Wiza. “The community involvement and the willingness to dig in and get their hands dirty has been amazing on all fronts.”

Wiza says it all started with the preservation of M.T.’s mug collection. Volunteers washed the mugs to be used in the future at the visitor center. This experience got the community interested and got the ball rolling for the project. 

“Several volunteers came out and rolled up their sleeves as we carefully cleaned the collection,” said Wiza. “While the pandemic slowed us down a bit, we were able to socially distance, stay safe, and continue to make progress.”

The community involvement didn’t stop there. Wiza says the community involved at every level. Mullinville Mayor Andy Kimble walked through the fields and shared information about tractors and engines, which totaled 43. Wiza noted the bravery of Mayor Kimble who was unafraid of snakes during the journey. Tod Alexander, City Council Member, used his forklift to remove the tallest pieces from their bases. Alexander also loaned other equipment throughout the conservation efforts. JC Underwood, another City Council Member, kept the grounds trimmed which allowed conservators to safely navigate the premises. Chad Kishpaugh provided any extra muscle needed and helped with the water lines. Brian Gumpenberger and his team built the Visitor Center, which Wiza says is a beautiful space. The Kiowa County provided resources as the Kohler Foundation workers navigated the process, but the hospitality received by the community has been amazing. 

“Not only did we receive help and support, the local hospitality has been amazing,” said Wiza. “Great team lunches at the Mullinville Café or Antique Store restaurant.”

Wiza also mentioned working with Ann Dixson, Stacy Barnes, Erika Nelson, and each member of the M.T. Liggett Committee through the 5.4.7. Art Center is one of the most exciting parts of this progress. 

The project is well on its way to being completed and the Kohler Foundation and its conservators are excited to bring the new attraction to Mullinville and the Kiowa County area.