About This Exhibition

No Idle Hands gives museum visitors a chance to view the art and artifacts that reflect daily life in America’s early history. The exhibition features highlights from WAM’s newly acquired collection of more than 450 works of American folk art, including some of the best furniture, samplers, hunting decoys and lures, and corner store paraphernalia from the new collection.

It tells the story of America’s past while also foregrounding the beautiful materials and craftsmanship of many of these objects.

WAM’s curatorial staff organized the exhibition with local architect Dean Bradley, of Platt, Bradley, Adams, and Associates. As a specialist in residential architecture with a personal passion for history and preservation who also serves on the board of The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, Bradley designed a gallery installation evoking the stores and homes in which the works were originally used and cherished. Shop signs–including iconic striped barber poles–conjure up an image of Main Street. Portraits, toys, and miniatures–small, hand-held portraits sometimes worn as jewelry–reference the life of the family and home. Each object–some rare and precious and others common fare—tells the story of the changes and continuities of daily life in America over the last 200 years.