HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Officials with the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson say a five-year, $15 million master plan will lay the foundation for the center’s next 50 years and emphasize science, technology, engineering and math education.
The plan unveiled Tuesday includes major changes to the space museum’s mission and exhibit, including putting movable exhibits in the lobby and adding a video wall in the rotunda, The Hutchinson News reported. CEO Dick Hollowell also said there will be access from the entrance to a theater, gift shop and food service.
Only about 8 percent of the building’s 13,000 exhibits are on display, president and chief operating officer Jim Remar said, so the new plan allows more efficient use of existing space. The museum will not build on to the current structure. Other aspects of the plan include more interactive exhibits in the Hall of Space Museum and an area designed specifically for young children.
“Five years from now you will see a museum that is more engaging and interactive, not as heavy with copy (text to be read) but that still tells the story in a way visitors expect,” Remar said.
The plan also calls for two STEM labs. The new STEM education emphasis could give the center access to some foundations for some of the $15 million, but local support also will be needed, Hollowell said.
The revitalization effort started after the Cosmosphere celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012, and was spurred by declining attendance. The plan was developed during the past year by a task force and museum-planning experts.
“The business model was not one we could carry forward, based on declining attendance by the public sector, schools and campers,” Hollowell said. “Jim and I decided we need to take a step back and examine the future.”