Art News

A Safari Museum Hidden In The Middle of Kansas

A former local train depot, left, houses the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum. A statue of the couple greets visitors in the middle of Kansas. Photographs by Steve Hebert for The New York Times

CHANUTE, KANSAS – The story of Martin and Osa Johnson, an
couple whose documented journeys to places like Africa transformed them
national celebrities in the first part of the last century, has faded
with time.
Even in some parts of Kansas, where the couple grew up before setting
off on
their adventures, mention of the Johnsons can now draw looks of
puzzlement. The
museum draws its share of Osa and Martin Johnson devotees from far and
But other visitors, Mr. Froehlich acknowledges, have
never heard
of them. By the 1920s and 1930s, Martin and Osa Johnson were household
names and
faces — as famous in their era, according to one Johnson historian, as
Jackson in ours. Their comings and goings made headlines and, in perhaps
modern measure of celebrity, Mrs. Johnson had a stalker.