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Recent Projects


“Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration & Citizenship in Kansas”

Winner of 2012 National Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State & Local History

Most Kansans can trace their heritage to another part of the world.  They came in search of a better life for themselves or their children—many came to join family or friends.  Between 1865 and 1880, Kansas attracted immigrants at a faster pace than anywhere else in the United States.  This permanent exhibit at the Robert J. Dole Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas helps visitors to the courthouse connect this story with their personal experience by providing context, personalizing the facts and figures, using signature graphics and asking questions through the use of engaging interactive components. Visitors to the exhibit can test their knowledge of U.S. history and civics by taking a sample citizenship test at a touch-screen, through a live feed from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. A traveling version toured the State from 2011-2013, and was viewed by over 65,000 visitors.

An accompanying documentary video produced in conjunction with the exhibit, “The American Dream in Kansas: In Their Own Words,” features new citizens describing why they chose to become U.S. citizens and what it means to be an American.  To view the video, http://www.ksd.uscourts.gov/the-american-dream-in-kansas-in-their-own-words/

Jean served as Project Manager, conceptualized the project, researched and wrote the script, produced the video and managed fabrication & installation of the exhibit.

Visit the exhibit at the Robert J. Dole Courthouse, 500 State Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, 66101, Monday through Friday, 8a.m.-5 p.m.

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Americans by Choice exhibit entry.

Interactive Storytelling

Simple interactive elements introduce new ideas and pose questions for visitors.

Naturalized in Kansas

Interactive kiosk allows visitors to take the self-test from US Customs & Immigration Services website.

Traveling version of Americans By Choice toured the state from 20112-2014

Traveling version of Americans By Choice toured the state from 2012-2014


“Overland Park: A Place of Peace, Comfort & Plenty”

An exhibit for the Overland Park Historical Society

Winner of 2015 National Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State & Local History

Overland Park got its start as a great place to live when William B. Strang Jr., a railroad developer and capitalist living in New York City, was in Kansas City in 1903, after a devastating flood of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers.  A visionary and entrepreneur, Strang decided to build a flood-free, self-sustaining, park-like community for middle class families connected to jobs and stores in Kansas City and Olathe by an interurban railroad line.  Strang purchased over 600 acres in northeast Johnson County and platted lots for homes and businesses, graded streets, and planted shade trees.  He built the interurban railroad line in less than a year.  He donated land for a school and a church, built recreational facilities, and sponsored dances, ball games, and air shows—attracting buyers for his lots and entertaining residents and visitors.  The combination of affordable property, community services and amenities, and the ease of getting to cities north and south on the Strang Line, was key to the successful establishment and growth of Overland Park between 1906 and 1925.

This free-standing interpretive history exhibit, researched and planned by Jean, brings to life the story of William Strang and others who shared his vision.  The exhibit is  installed in the Historic Stanley Bank in south Overland Park, Kansas.

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As installed, a 1922 map of Overland Park subdivisions.   Open the doors to “Meet the Neighbors” in each subdivision.

Open the doors to four subdivisions and “Meet the Neighbors” who lived in each.

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Fabric window banners are functional and add visual interest–blocking direct sunlight from the gallery space and sharing images of people who lived in Overland Park between 1906-1926.

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A Sanborn fire insurance map of Overland Park shows the location and construction of commercial buildings, surrounding photos of businesses in downtown Overland Park.

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William B. Strang Jr.’s 1906 vision of Overland Park overlays a color aerial photo of Overland Park subdivisions today.

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The Historic Stanley Bank in southern Overland Park gives the Overland Park Historical Society a presence in the southern region of this city, the second most populous city in the state.


Lee Jeans 125th Anniversary Tour-2014

As Historian/Project Archivist for Lee Jeans since 2003, Jean has organized, inventoried and created a searchable database of the Lee Company’s corporate archive.  She manages the collection and conducts research on the company’s history and products.  The collection includes: product samples, price lists catalogs, photographs, print ads, corporate records and more, dating to the company’s founding in Salina, Kansas, in 1889.  Lee Jeans-celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014.  Jean is seen here speaking to the media during the Lee Asia-Pacific’s 125th anniversary Archive Tour in Beijing, China in April, 2014, and making presentations in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai,  Manila and Mumbai.  To read about the tour, visit: http://blog.lee.com/celebrating-125th-anniversary-around-world/

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Jean gives a tour to media and VIP’s in Mumbai, October, 2014.

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Jean provides Media Tour of Lee Archive Touring Exhibit, Manila, Philippines, May 2014.

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Jean gives a tour of Lee Archive Collection exhibition to Asia-Pacific Media in Beijing, China, April 2014

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Jean (far right) with Minnie Leung, Senior Product Director and Minoru Watanabe, Lead Designer for Lee Asia-Pacific, in new Lee Jeans store in Shanghai, China.

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Jean gives interviews and tours of Lee 125th Anniversary Archive Exhibition to Japanese media in Tokyo, Japan, May, 2014.

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Jean provides Lee History Lesson for Asia-Pacific teams, Shanghai & Hong Kong, May 2014.


Shawnee Town, 1929 Strategic Plan, Shawnee, Kansas

Jean facilitated a comprehensive strategic planning process with extensive community involvement.  The City of Shawnee is now implementing the Strategic Plan, transforming Old Shawnee Town from a recreated Kansas prairie town to an historically accurate interpretation of the City’s history.    In 1929, Shawnee was the center of a rural cash crop economy, meeting the needs of area farmers before suburbs and annexation changed the landscape of rural America.   This story is the focus of Shawnee Town, 1929 with interpretive programs and exhibits emphasizing three historical themes: Shawnee’s role as a farm town supporting area farmers; the strength and resilience of community spirit in Shawnee through difficult and prosperous times; and the effects of transportation on Shawnee as a link between points to the west and the urban center of Kansas City and beyond.  Today you can visit a 1920s truck farm–or stop in Town to see what goods and services are available in Shawnee in 1929.   Visitors of all ages are in for a memorable experiences in a unique setting.   See www.shawneetown.org for hours and more information.


 Black Archive of Mid-America
The board of the Black Archives of Mid-America contracted with Jean Svadlenak in 2010 to inventory, pack and move its collection to a new facility for processing and safe-keeping. The project involved assessing the collection in terms of relevance to the mission, developing guidelines for  determining what to maintain as part of the Permanent Collection and for deaccessioning.  Jean developed a storage plan including recommendations for systems, fixtures and supplies to re-house and store the collection for long-term preservation and access to the public.  The Archive collection includes over 30,000 items ranging from art, photographs, furniture,  and clothing to archival materials, sound recordings and reference materials.


Hotel Savoy and Savoy Grill, Kansas City

21C Hotels of Louisville, Kentucky contracted with Jean to ensure that materials of historical significance to the community were identified and safely removed and preserved from this beloved Kansas City hotel and restaurant.  Hotel records, correspondence and cash ledgers, blueprints and photographs dating from the early 1900s through the hotel’s closing in 2014, as well as iconic furnishings and memorabilia were carefully reviewed and removed from the building for use in the restoration/renovations.  Some materials were donated to local museums, archives and libraries for preservation and public research and access, and duplicate furnishings sold at public auction.   Today, the hotel is undergoing extensive restoration and renovation.  Pieces of the hotel’s past will be prominently displayed when the new hotel opens.


“The Children’s Mercy Story”

An exhibit for Children’s Mercy Hospital

Children’s Mercy Hospital contracted Jean for the conceptual development, research, writing and design of an engaging history exhibit to convey the tradition and commitment of Children’s Mercy Hospital to quality patient care, research and education.  The exhibit links the hospital’s past with its current ranking as one of the nation’s leading pediatric medical centers.  It draws from the hospital’s archival collection and features photographs, artifacts and personal stories–of patients and the people who help patients and their families–coping with traumatic injuries diseases and health crises, with their skill, dedication and compassion.  Interactive elements invite hospital staff, patients, their families and visitors to compare their experience and test their knowledge about Children’s Mercy Hospital’s history.

The exhibit is installed near the lobby entrance of the hospital’s Adele Hall campus on Gillham Road, Kansas City, Missouri.

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“Caring for Body, Mind & Spirit: The  Story of St. Joseph Nurses”

An exhibit for the St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation

Winner of 2015 National Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State & Local History

When the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet arrived in Kansas City in 1874 to open St. Joseph Hospital, they set a new standard of nursing.  At a time when nursing required no training, the Sisters decided to train. Their decision was a commitment to nursing education and a commitment to the advancement of professional nursing.  And they broadened nursing to mean care for the whole person – healing in body, mind, and spirit.  The exhibit conveys the importance and role of nurses and the rich tradition established by the Sisters of St. Joseph— still evident today in nursing care of patients.   It  features photographs, artifacts, quotes and personal stories of nurses, religious and lay, who personify the spirit of St. Joseph.   Nurses, doctors, and patients share their thoughts about nursing at St. Joseph in a 4-minute video, and simple, mechanical interactive components include pull-down panels providing broader historical context for  St. Joseph nursing history, a flipbook with personal stories of St. Joseph nurses who have shared their skills around the world, and  “How to take a pulse.”

Jean served as Project Manager for this permanent exhibit and produced the video, which is installed in the Donald Kirk Piper M.D. Memorial Medical Museum at St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

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In the introductory video, doctors, nurses and patients describe how nurses or nursing at St. Joseph has had an impact on their life.

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Visitors learn how to take a pulse, one of the basic skills first learned by nurses.

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Glass cases protect the ‘tools of the trade” from a stethoscope and thermometer to a digital vital sign monitor.

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St. Joseph nurses have been recognized nationally for excellence in nursing. Educators who have molded the training of St. Joseph nurses are featured.

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