Walter Yost special exhibit now through April 2017

True to His Roots - examines the art, history, family and meaning of the work and tools of Atchison County's best known artist

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1963 Valley Farm by Walter Yost

Valley Farm

Discover Atchison County's most well-known artist & teacher.

Explore the recreated Barn Studio of Walter Yost in the Museum.

View a rotating gallery of his art - see his student art and illustrations & more...

...and share your memories, sign the Studio Guestbook, leave your own art memory.

The Details


That would be YOU - whether you knew Walter Yost or not you can experience his view of Kansas as he captured it in his art.


This special exhibit on Atchison County's own - Walter Yost - is the biggest - most comprehensive exhibit project we have undertaken in our 50 years as Atchison County's Museum. It has Art, it has Yost's recreated barn studio, it has his tools and the artifacts of family, farm and home he preserved.


Walter Yost - True to His Roots is now open and evolving, we will continue to add new pieces to the exhibit, more information will be added as YOU - our audience share your own knowledge, stories, art and more. The exhibit will be on display in the Atchison County Historical Society Museum from NOW through April 2017.... and maybe longer.

The works of art displayed will rotate as we borrow pieces for exhibit about every 6 to 8 weeks and for the Holiday Season we are restoring one of Yost's final large projects - an outdoor Christmas Light background --- watch for more details soon.

And watch here and on Facebook for special events, programs, art creation days and more...


Atchison County's Museum

The Atchison County Historical Society

200 S. 10th Street, Santa Fe Depot

Atchison, KS 66002


Thanks to Walter Yost's daughter, Karen McDow, and many former students and collectors of Walter Yost's art, stories, Yostisms we can bring you this exhibit that illustrates "that the making of art is creating a visual, historical record of our time on Earth ".

Hometown Teams Poster


Oct 17, 2016 special program on John Steuart Curry - Yost's biggest influence

John Steuart Curry and Kansas Art to be topic for Historical Society Annual Meeting
Monday, Oct. 17th special program will explore Curry as the artist Atchison County Artist Walter Yost credited as his largest influence

While the art of Atchison County artist Walter Yost is on exhibit in the Museum – the topic for the Historical Society’s annual meeting will center on Yost’s biggest influence John Steuart Curry.

The Atchison County Historical Society will host it’s Annual Meeting Monday, Oct. 17th with a Museum Open House beginning at 6 pm – and the Annual Meeting and Program beginning at 7 p.m. The evening’s events are free and open to the public in Atchison County’s Museum in the Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. 10th Street, Atchison.

Don Lambert from Kansas City will present a unique program on Curry and his relationship with Kansas – especially over his now well-loved murals in the Kansas Statehouse. Lambert a freelance writer is well versed in Curry and the arts. He developed a first-person reenactment of Curry that brought the Kansas icon to life for the Kansas lawmakers in 1992 and he was key to bringing much of Curry’s work back to Kansas at the Beach Museum of Art at K-State through his work with Curry’s widow. Lambert is also known as the person who brought Wellsville, KS artist Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton to the attention of the world in 1977.

Lambert will explore aspects of Curry’s life and work and offer some insight into how Curry influenced Atchison County’s own Walter Yost.

Curry grew up in Jefferson County, Kansas just a short distance from Cummings, KS where Walter Yost lived his entire life – and the connections between the art of the two men is rooted in the fertile soil of Kansas. Curry was painting some of his most influential work during the time Walter Yost was just beginning his training and career in art and at least one meeting between the two made a lasting impression on Yost.

Yost describes that while he was a student at the University of Kansas he went to watch Curry at work on the State House murals – Curry saw him and when he found out Yost was an art student he called him over and put Yost to work painting the boots of John Brown in the famous work. We don’t know specifics of how else the two may have been in touch but Yost always cited Curry as his biggest influence. Viewing their work capturing the landscape of Kansas easily confirms what Yost says – while nowhere near as well known – Yost continued the tradition of work Curry began.

Curry was widely respected across the country but in his own Kansas he was not as well received. The Kansas Legislature was critical of his every brushstroke and most critical of his image of John Brown. Today Curry’s work is treasured by Kansans and it is hard to imagine the turmoil as Curry was creating the work – so much so that Curry left the murals unsigned and parts unfinished.

The evening in the Museum will begin with an open house and viewing of the current Walter Yost – True to His Roots exhibit, which will continue through April 2017. Refreshments and light snacks will be available. At 7 p.m. the Annual Meeting will begin with election of board and officers and special honoring of five new inductees into the Atchison County Historical Society Roll of Honor. Immediately following at approximately 7:15 p.m. will be the program on John Steuart Curry by Don Lambert.

The Historical Society Roll of Honor inductees for 2016 include two of the earliest supporters and board members – Harry Hixson and Bob Peterson; Helen Ostertag – whose family home became the first museum location for Atchison County’s Museum; Harold Scheopner is our current inductee – honoring his service as President of the Historical Society; and the final inductee is Walter Yost – who was an early supporter, donor the museum, giving of his time and talents as the museum moved into the Santa Fe Depot in 1989 – and honoring his life’s work – Art that truly is a visual record of our time on Earth.

The evening events are free and open to the public – for additional info visit us online –  or on Facebook


Hometown Teams Poster


Tell me more about Walter Yost. What is True to His Roots?

Walter Arthur Yost was born in Cummings, KS on Feb. 26, 1911 in the same room he would still sleep in as an adult. Although he would travel far in his years on Earth he would never leave his Atchison County home.
A family man, teacher, artist, worker of the soil and a preserver of the beauty and history that surrounded him - he painted more than 500 paintings, plus more screen prints, illustrations and projects than he could count.
His wife Mary and daughter Karen were inspirations to his life and art as was preserving his family home, the tools and artifacts of his family heritage.

He worked his way through school and the University of Kansas during the Great Depression, returned home to save the family homestead, began teaching while earning his Masters of Fine Arts also at the Univ. of Kansas.

He recieved the 1976 Kansas Governors Artist of the Year Award and participated in the 1989-1990 Kansas Governors Artist Winners Traveling Exhibition.

He considered his greatest success the success of his thousands of students - at Atchison High School, Highland Community College, Benedictine College and many more colleges, local students and more through the years.

May 26, 1995 he died at his home in Cummings, KS.


“If you were caught drawing a picture, you got your knuckles slapped. The second time, you got a board around your rear end,” Walter Yost about when he was in elementary school at the Camp Creek Grade School. “Art was considered foolishness.”

WALTER YOST, about when he was in elementary school at the Camp Creek Grade School in Atchison County, KS


You can help us make this exhibit even more comprehensive. We feel Walter Yost is underappreciated as an artist and his impact underrated. Part of this project is creating an archive of his work and information, stories and details about his life and work and the success of his students. We believe this archive of material will be of great value to researchers in the future - but if we wait until Yost receives his due many of his paintings and the stories from his students will be impossible to locate. So here is where you get involved - send us an email with your information - details and photos of any art pieces you may possess. We will continue gathering through the exhibit and beyond - but now is the time to contact us. Click here to go to the Contact Us Page and help us gather more info on Walter Yost.


Contact Us for more info

The Atchison County Historical Society Museum
P.O. Box 201
200 S. 10th Street, Santa Fe Depot
Atchison, KS 66002
P: (913) 367-6238
Email us
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About the Atchison County Historical Society

Established in 1967, the first museum was opened in 1968. The Society moved into the current museum, the 1880 Santa Fe Depot, in 1989. We host quarterly evening adult education programs and sponsor K-12 programming, including the monthly Pioneer Club for 4th-7th grade students.

The Atchison County Historical Society, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in the State of Kansas.

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About Independence Creek: Lewis & Clark Historic Site

Open Sunrise to Sunset year round. Located 5 miles north of Atchison's Main Street this site may be reached by car or by hiking/biking trail. The 13.5 acre site has reestablished the prairie as seen by the Corps of Discovery and encompasses a stretch of Independence Creek referred to by Captain William Clark in his July 4, 1804 journal entry. A pedestrian bridge completes the 5-mile trail link to the Atchison Riverfront. A re-creation of a 1724-1804 era Kanza Indian Earthlodge interprets the Kanza habitation of this location.

Physical location:

19917 314th Road, Atchison, KS

Explore more about Independence Creek

Museum Hours & Admission

Summer Hours:

9 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday

noon to 5 pm Sundays

Winter Hours: (November - March)

9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday

10 am to 4 pm Saturdays

noon to 4 pm Sundays (closed Jan & Feb)

Open to the public 350 days a year - closed: New Years, Sundays in January and February, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas & New Year's Eve.

Museum admission is by donation - requested donations $2-adults, $1-children, $1.50-seniors, $5-family.

Contact us for Group Tours booking, rates and details.

Get in Touch

  • Phone:
    (913) 367 6238
  • Email:
  • Address:
    Atchison County Historical Society
  • P.O. Box 201
  • 200 S. 10th Street, Santa Fe Depot
    Atchison, KS 66002