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Crane Observatory dome and trees

Attractions and Entertainment

Washburn has attractions and entertainment for visitors of all ages. 

The Mulvane Art Museum has an extensive collection of art and approximately a dozen traveling exhibitions per year. The museum is free for all and boasts an ArtLab for children to harness their creativity. The newest edition to the Mulvane Art Museum's collection is the Rita Blitt gallery and sculpture garden. In addition to the sculpture garden, Washburn has many other sculptures on campus. Some of these are permanent and some are on campus temporarily as part of a competition. Click here to learn more about art on campus.

Washburn's numerous athletic teams always welcome new fans to cheer them on! Check out wusports.com to see schedules and ticket prices. 

Attending a concert is a great way to support Washburn students. Many student ensembles perform throughout the year. Click here to learn more about ensembles and concerts.

The Washburn theatre department performs severals shows throughout the year. Performances are open to the public with a general admission ticket. Click here to learn more.

Crane Observatory

Washburn University’s Crane Observatory is a hidden gem of Topeka. Check it out during an open house and view the night sky through a Warner & Swasey refracting telescope built in the late 1800s.
Crane Observatory open viewing sessions are hosted by the Washburn Department of Physics and Astronomy. Observatory open viewing sessions, which begin after dusk, are canceled if the weather is not conducive to viewing.
Crane Observatory is on the fourth floor of Stoffer Science Hall, at 17th Street and Washburn Avenue. There is ample free parking in front of the building in Lot 1. Use the southwest entrance to Stoffer Hall and take the stairs to the fourth floor. At present, the observatory is not wheelchair accessible.
Check out this week’s night sky before you go to Crane Observatory. Contact the Washburn Department of Physics and Astronomy at 785.670.2264 to learn more.

Planetarium

Stoffer Science Hall also is home to Washburn’s Planetarium. At a planetarium open house, 30 visitors can see a projection of the night sky.
The planetarium is available for school group presentations on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school year. Contact the Washburn Department of Physics and Astronomy at 785.670.2264 to schedule a presentation.
See here for the planetarium open house schedule.

Carole Chapel is available for meditation and special events. The 1,500 square foot structure is nestled among Scotch and Austrian pine trees east of Benton Hall and south of the Memorial Union. The Chapel was moved to campus and dedicated in December 2004.

When is Carole Chapel available for meditation?

  • 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday when classes are in session
  • 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday when classes are not in session
  • The chapel is not available when the university is closed, including holidays, and when the chapel is reserved for a special event.

How do I reserve Carole Chapel?

  • University-sponsored groups, including student and departmental organizations, may reserve the chapel for free.
  • The public may reserve the chapel for weddings or other ceremonies for a fee.
  • To reserve the chapel, contact the Memorial Union administrative office at 785-670-1725.

Who is the chapel named for?

Carole Chapel is named for Carole Bloomfield Etzel, b ed ’63. Along with her husband, Tim, bba ’64 and honorary doctorate ’07, she was instrumental in moving the chapel to the Washburn campus from the former Menninger Foundation site in northwest  Topeka.

The Menninger Foundation donated the chapel to the university when its clinic was relocated to Houston in 2003. The chapel originally was built in 1996 and named for Topeka philanthropist Irene Nunemaker.

The chapel’s stained glass window was designed by John Whitfield, bfa ’64, of Lindsborg, Kan. It was constructed by Topekan Steve Clark, ba ’73 and jd ’76, owner of 1904 Stained Glass. When the chapel originally opened on the Menninger campus the window was deemed the Scott S. Smith Memorial Window, after a member of the Menninger staff. Smith’s widow, Marie, also a longtime Menninger staffer, donated the window.

Carole and Tim Etzel were active in the fundraising effort to relocate the chapel to Washburn. Carole Etzel has served on the Washburn Women’s Alliance Advisory Board. Tim Etzel was formerly on the Washburn Board of Regents and served on the Washburn Foundation board. The Etzels are members of the President’s Club of the Lincoln Society and provided a lead gift for the establishment of the Living Learning Center.

Washburn University’s campus is home to five war memorials dedicated to veterans of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The Civil War Memorial

President William Howard Taft visited Washburn University on September 27, 1911. During that visit, the only to the Topeka campus by a sitting president, Taft dedicated a flagpole to the memory of those who died in the Civil War.
Although the original flagpole is no longer on campus, Flagpole Rock, in the plaza of flags west of Carnegie Hall, bares a plaque that reads: Erected and dedicated as a silent lesson in patriotism at the base of a flagpole in front of the Thomas Gymnasium. In memory of those who fell in the war for the preservation of the Union by the surviving veterans of Shawnee County in Kansas.

Larrick Memorial Bench: World War I

A bench at the northeast corner of Benton Hall honors the service of Louis Lloyd Larrick, a Washburn graduate who died while serving in the war. The bench was provided by Larrick’s parents and includes the following inscription: Who sacrificed his life for the perpetuation of civilization in the Great World War. Sept. 27, 1918. Larrick was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and was class president his senior year in the School of Law. He also competed on the football, baseball and track teams. There were 17 other Washburn alumni who died in the war.

The Memorial Union: War I, World War II, the Korean War

Students led the push for creation of a student union that could be dedicated to the memory of those who served in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. For example, beginning in 1948, the Independent Women’s Alumni group sold metal emblems of Ichabod that could be attached to a bicycle or car. The cost: $1.10. The Memorial Union opened in fall 1951 and was dedicated on Washburn Founders Day, Feb. 6, 1952.

Today, a large bronze plaque hangs in the east entrance to the Memorial Union. The plaque includes the names of all Shawnee County residents, including Washburn students, who lost their lives in World War I (144 names), World War II (469 names) and the Korean War (21 names). It can be viewed weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Dedicated on Veteran’s Day 1988 at the southwest corner of 18th Street and College Avenue near Morgan Hall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial exists thanks to 10 students who were veterans of the war and now retired faculty member Lee Dodson, who corresponded with many student servicemen during their time in Vietnam.  The memorial includes the names of the 47 Washburn students who did not return home.

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Washburn University prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, veteran status, or marital or parental status. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Dr. Pamela Foster, Equal Opportunity Director/Title IX Coordinator, Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave, Topeka, Kansas 66621, 785.670.1509, eodirector@washburn.edu.

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