Saying you’d like to sample the culture of Topeka is like saying you’d like to sample the cuisine of the Eastern Hemisphere: It’s tough to know where to begin. The Midwestern city offers a variety of attractions and traditions that belies its size. Visitors and locals can soak in regional history, see a play or a concert or get involved in a public art project.
First stop for the heritage buff would undoubtedly be the Kansas History Center. The complex includes the national award-winning Kansas Museum of History, a restored 1920s schoolhouse and the Center for Historical Research. Other historic notables in the community include the Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site at Monroe Elementary School, one of the segregated schools involved in the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that ended public school segregation, and historic Ward-Meade Park, which surrounds botanical gardens, a restored prairie village and Anthony Ward’s 1870s Victorian mansion.
Catch a Show
For a foray into culture that lets you sit still, catch a Broadway show at the Topeka Performing Arts Center or take in dinner and a play at the Topeka Civic Theater. For lovers of melody, the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, the Topeka Opera Society and the Topeka Jazz Workshop offer a wide variety of listening options. Topeka is also ripe with opportunities to be a part of the art.
Art and Festivals
The Great Mural Wall Project is a public art endeavor to reinvent an 800-foot-long, 11-foot-tall former reservoir wall as an eclectic mural. Many artists have contributed to the project since it began in 2006. Other get-involved cultural activities in the city include the Kansas Day Celebration in January, the Mexican Fiesta in July and the Kansas River Valley Art Festival in September. Whether you’re a get-your-hands-dirty cultural enthusiast or an armchair connoisseur, something in Topeka is bound to spark your interest.