WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Visitors to the Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita are now able to view the museum’s exhibits in air conditioned comfort, thanks to a $1.3 million renovation project that is nearly complete, the museum’s director said.
The new air conditioning and heating system is part of a project that also made the museum in an 80-year-old Art Deco building handicapped accessible with modern amenities such as updated restrooms, The Wichita Eagle reported. Before the renovation, only the front offices and curatorial area were heated and cooled.
“We have a comfortable building and our signs on the elevators are a little tongue-in-cheek when we say, ‘Enjoy our cool museum,'” museum director Daniel Bateman said.
The city of Wichita and the museum split the costs of the renovation, which should be completed by the second week of August.
“Our ultimate goal is to preserve Kansas aviation and share it with the public,” Bateman said. “By making these renovations … it’s more comfortable for them year round.”
The museum at the Wichita Municipal Airport is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of only 12 early air terminals remaining in the nation. The historic designation meant renovations could not damage the nature of the building, Bateman said.
“Those challenges are interesting to deal with when you take a historic building and try to make it work with today’s society,” he said. “You have things like (the American Disabilities Act) that didn’t exist 80 years ago.”
Bateman said the new handicapped-accessible restrooms have the same deco color scheme as the building, and the light fixtures resemble 1930s-era sconces.
“We try to make it look and feel like you’re not going from 1945 to 2015,” he said.
Bateman said the museum expects higher energy bills because of the new system but they shouldn’t be “outrageous.”
And the added comfort will allow Bateman to rent out the second floor for events. A wedding is already scheduled for Aug. 8.
The museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary next month. A fundraising gala is planned in September and, thanks to the renovation, it will be held at the museum for the first time in years, Bateman said.
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