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Encountering John Brown

A traveling exhibit exploring John Brown's life and legacy through the eyes of those who knew him.

September 4 - November 6, 2021

Learn about this radical abolitionist through his encounters with key Civil War-era figures such as Harriet Tubman and Robert E. Lee.

“Encountering John Brown” explores the history of the man who helped start the Civil War through history, firsthand accounts, and vivid illustrations of the Americans, from widely recognized to largely unknown, whose lives were altered by their encounters with the man. Utilizing expressive portraits by Kansas artist Brad Sneed, the exhibit explores Brown’s story from childhood to his execution for his role in the raid on Harpers Ferry. From his abolitionist roots in Ohio to his role in the violence of “Bleeding Kansas” to his plan to start a slave insurrection beginning with the taking of Harpers Ferry, “Encountering John Brown” follows America’s most prominent abolitionist from cradle to grave and beyond.

Be among the first to see the exhibit when it makes its debut at the Watkins Museum of History in Historic Downtown Lawrence, Kansas, September 4 – November 6, 2021.


Watkins Museum of History
1047 Massachusetts Street
Exhibit open daily noon – 8:00 PM
Tickets: $10 

Explore even more...

Lawrence was founded in the 1850’s as the state’s center of resistance to the expansion of slavery. John Brown lived south of Lawrence and in response to the “Sacking of Lawrence”, he and his supporters killed five pro-slavery southerners in what became known as the Pottawatomie Massacre in May 1856. Learn more about Lawrence in the Bleeding Kansas era>

Add more fiery history to your visit by sampling our past:

Special Events

Win a Jayhawkers Print! Sep 23

Now through November 6, everyone who purchases a ticket for the Watkins Museum exhibit Encountering John Brown will be entered in a drawing for a free framed print from Framewoods Gallery! The winner will be drawn and notified November 9. Limit of one entry per purchaser.

The Ballad of Black Jack Sep 24

A John Brown Experience! Celebrate our community’s history with beautiful music and a reminder of the local events that led up to the Civil War. We invite you to continue exploring local history at the special John Brown Exhibits at Watkins History Museum. Live Performances:...

Slavery on the Border: Online Author Talk with Kristen Epps Sep 24

Join us on the Watkins Museum Facebook page as we interview historian Dr. Kristen Epps of Kansas State University about her book Slavery on the Periphery: The Kansas-Missouri Border in the Antebellum and Civil War Eras. Purchase the book from our friends at the Raven Book Store....

Which Free Stater Are You? Sep 23

From 1854 to 1861, thousands of men and women came together for an important cause: Ensuring that the Kansas Territory entered the Union as a free state. Which Free Stater do you most resemble? Take this 10-question quiz to match up with one of fifteen historic individuals and...


Bring a group to view the exhibit and enjoy a day or two exploring the Bleeding Kansas story and enjoying the Lawrence community. 

eXplore Lawrence will connect you to the right resources to make your planning easy and your group happy!  From finding hotel rooms and group-friendly dining to connecting you with experiences and activities that enhance the trip, eXplore Lawrence is here to help!

Group Itinerary Ideas>

Kendra Brayfield


Get the current Lawrence/Douglas County COVID-19 data and information that matters to travelers at a glance here>