Dyche

(Frank) And we’re back and I’m still awake. (Deb) We really need to get
people to deliver coffee for us, Frank. (Frank) Coffee would be good.
(Deb) I’ve only had one cup this morning and I can really feel it, I’m
not really functioning that well. And we need a masseuse on staff. You
know we’re getting to be a big deal around Kansas and we…. (Frank)
We’ll talk to our director, contracts I think are coming up here quickly.
(Deb) I go to the co-op and people recognize me, so we need, yea…
(Frank) You know, (laughs). (Deb) Go to the feedlots, and people, I know
you! Yea, so, we need a little perk here and there. (Frank) Something,
anyway, so…oh back to business. You know, we’ve talked about a lot of
museums and really interesting places around the state and there’s one
over in Lawrence and you’re gonna do a story about that. And it is the
Dyche Museum. (Deb) It’s amazing, the Dyche Museum has been a treasure in
Kansas for a long, long time. It’s the old-fashioned natural history
museum where you’ve got a lot of stuffed animals and stuff. But they have
updated the exhibit that we were there seeing is on viruses and molecules
and so, it’s a fantastic exhibit. I don’t know of anyplace that kids
enjoy more. And of course it’s always cool because you go up and you can
actually touch a stuffed polar bear or whatever, and you see the big
panorama. But what really blew me away was, I took my grandkids who are
four and five and my granddaughter who’s 11. And the four-year-old who is
ADD, just you can’t get him to sit still and he’s looking into the
microscopes and he’s looking, he’s stopping and he’s spending time and
he’s looking at these bugs and he’s looking at these molecules and I was
really amazed at how engaged he was with what I considered the less
spectacular exhibits. And it was really amazing to see the kids engaged
that way. And all the kids that we took with us really, really loved it,
so I think you will too. Lewis Lindsay Dyche came to Kansas Territory as
a baby. His parents settled in Osage County where they farmed and raised
twelve children. His boyhood was spent outdoors on the farm or hunting
and trapping. He also visited with local Indian tribes, and was
fascinated by their stories. He rarely attended school, but wanted an
education. He sold cattle he had bought and raised and used the money to
enroll at the Kansas State Normal School, the teacher’s college, in
Emporia. He graduated early and then enrolled at KU. Inspired by KU’s
science professor Francis H. Snow, Dyche pursued his studies with zeal
and became the equivalent to a teaching assistant. In 1881 while on a
field trip to New Mexico, the group of KU scholars just missed being
attacked by a band of Apache warriors. Dyche graduated from KU with two
bachelor’s degrees. He married and continued teaching at the university.
He spent a summer in Washington DC training under the National Museum’s
chief taxidermist and became skillful at the craft. In 1891 the U.S. Army
asked him to preserve the remains of the old cavalry horse, Comanche, the
only survivor found on the Little Big Horn battlefield after the defeat
of George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry. He also helped assemble
specimens for the Kansas exhibit at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition
in Chicago. Dyche continued teaching at KU and devoting his summers to
collecting animal specimens and lobbied the legislature to build a museum
to house them. In 1901, they voted on the funds. Dyche spent years
helping to design the structure and providing it with exhibits. Later on,
Dyche also became the state’s Fish and Game Warden. Under his leadership
the state fish hatchery at Pratt was enlarged into one of the biggest and
most modern in the country. He wrote legislation that protected
endangered species and set hunting seasons for most mammals and game
birds. He also spoke on the need for soil and water conservation. The
natural history museum was renamed the Dyche Museum of Natural History.
Dyche Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973
and celebrated its centennial in 2003. The seven million specimens in the
collection, as well as research facilities and offices, now known as the
Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, are housed in
Dyche Hall and spill over into five other campus buildings.

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