As we travel around the country we are always interested in visiting the different museums. This week we found one that is extremely interesting. THE GORDON PARKS MUSEUM in Fort Scott, Kansas was founded in 2004. Gordon Parks, the famous photographer, filmmaker, musician and writer was born in Fort Scott in 1912. His journey with his camera took him all over the world.
He was the first African-American staff photographer for LIFE magazine for 20 years and his remarkable photographs many times were on their cover. He was the first African- American to direct a film for a major studio and his credits includes, The Learning Tree, Shaft, Leadbelly and others.
He wrote 20 books and composed music as well. He was truly a Renaissance man in every sense of the word. President Ronald Reagan presented him the National Medal of Arts Award in 1988. He lived most of his adult life in New York City.
Executive Director Jill Warford has truly done a remarkable job in creating this memorial/museum to this great man. Under her guidance this museum has turned into a national treasure. In all of our travels from coast to coast she is the most professional, friendly and articulate Director of any museum we have ever toured, and we have toured over 100 museums!
She knows the history of Gordon Parks explicitly and is a great tour guide. After the death of Gordon Parks in 2006,his personal effects were given to the Museum including awards and medals that he was given throughout his life, personal paintings, clothing, cameras and photographs, etc. They have dozens of his original photographs on display. The museum was able to obtain his ‘writing desk’.
His works can be found at the National Film Registry, the National Archives in Washington, D. C., the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C., Wichita Kansas State University as well as Kansas State University in Manhattan, Ks. If you are not familiar with him, check him out online.
The museum is open daily and is located on the campus of the Fort Scott Community College at 2108 South Horton. Their website is: http://www.gordonparkscenter.org/ and you can call them for more details at 1.800.874.3722, Ext. 5850.
Their museum has the largest collection of his work in one place, where he was born and is now buried. Be SURE and read what he wrote about the town where he was born which is on his tombstone which he wrote 5 years before his death in 2006.
“This small town into which I was born has for me, grown into the largest and most important city in the Universe. Fort Scott is not as tall or hearlded as New York, Paris or London – or other places my feet have roamed, but it is home. Surely, I remember the harsh days, the sordid bigotry and segregated schools – and indeed the graveyard for Black people, (where my beloved Mother and Father still rest beneath Kansas earth). But recently, the bitterness, that hung around for so many years seems to have asked for silence, for escape from the weariness of the ugly days past. Thankfully hatred is suddenly remaining quiet, keeping it’s mouth shut! And I’m thankful for the contentment we lost along the way. My hope now is that each of us can find What GOD put us here to find – LOVE! Let us have no more truck with the devil.”
And a BIG thanks to Director Jill Warford on doing such an outstanding job with the museum!
TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).