Cosmosphere getting a major renovation

A longtime tourist attraction in Hutchinson is getting a $15 million facelift over five years.

Visitors to the Cosmosphere have an opportunity to step into astronaut’s shoes, exploring space and all its mysteries from right in Kansas, but now, change is on the way through a major fundraiser.

“We have witnessed a 10 year period of decline in attendance and we feel that it’s time to enhance the museum,” said Dick Hollowell, Cosmosphere CEO.

While items displayed at the Cosmosphere range from models to actual items used in space, officials barely get the scratch the surface of what they have to share, having only 8% of their 13,000 artifacts out in the museum. However, they’re hoping that with the plan they’ll be able to change that.

“Right now we’re a fairly static, traditional museum with not a lot of interactivity, and the new museum will continue to tell the story of the space race in a manner unlike any other,” said Cosmosphere president Jim Remar, “but we’re gonna do so in an environment that really engages the visitor.”

By moving some features of the museum, they estimate they’ll be able to bring in around 30 more items to display.
And while the big move will offer more to visitors, it also lends a helping hand to the city financially.

“The Cosmosphere draws thousands of people to Hutchinson every year,” said Hutchinson assistant city manager, Meryl Dye. “Many of those are from Kansas, but that translates into tourism dollars for our community in terms of the bed tax, sales tax, and so on and so forth.”

More artifacts aren’t the only thing visitors can look forward to, there will also be a stronger emphasis on science and math programs to engage students.

Officials say if their timeline holds up, they hope to have a portion of the money raised by early 2015 with construction and other work visible by summer 2015.

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