Exploration Place

Coordinates: 37°41′N 97°21′W / 37.69°N 97.35°W / 37.69; -97.35

Coordinates: 37°41′21″N 97°20′52″W / 37.68917°N 97.34778°W / 37.68917; -97.34778 Exploration Place is a modern hands-on science museum, located in the Delano Neighborhood and Museums on the River district in Wichita, Kansas, United States.

History

During the 1980s, a plan to consolidate the city-owned Wichita Omnisphere and Science Center and the Children's Museum of Wichita was proposed. In 1992, a capital funds campaign was launched, and with an endowment from Velma Lunt Wallace, funds from the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County, and other donations, the museum opened in the spring of 2000.

In 2005, after a steady decline in attendance, the museum requested permanent county aid, and in October of that year Sedgwick County commissioners approved a four-year plan to assume control. Since then, a series of popular traveling exhibits has boosted membership, with the fiscal year ending in 2009 showing a 10% increase.

The Building

Construction began May 1997 and took 2 ½ years. Internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie of Boston designed the building. There are 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) and 20 acres (81,000 m2) on the property. The tallest point of the building is the peak of the roof of the traveling exhibits space and is 70 feet (21 m) above the floor (nearly 7 stories high). The combined distance around the interior perimeter of both buildings is approximately one mile.

The "Island Building" is named because it is surrounded by water, with the Arkansas River on one side and the reflecting pond on the other. The reflecting pond is between the buildings to create the illusion that looks like the river runs between the buildings. The reflecting pond is one to three feet deep. Even though the building is so close to the river it is not prone to flooding because it is above the 100-year flood level. During the flood in October 1998, the worst in recent history, the water level was still more than 8 feet (2.4 m) below the finished floor level.

Exhibits
  • The Kids' Explore area, which currently houses a three-story castle in which children can play
  • A "Tots' Spot" play area for toddlers.
  • Traveling exhibits - An area which has housed Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex and the famous RMS Titanic artifact exhibit and which was the first museum in the United States to host the Virtual Codex Atlanticus, a collection of Leonardo da Vinci's works presented in virtual form. Also is currently (July 2010) home to Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body and Much More Munsch.
  • Kansas in Miniature, a small-scale recreation of early-1950s Kansas.
  • A Kansas exhibit filled with the flora and fauna native to the area, including a wide array of animals such as reptiles, amphibians and arachnids/insects/arthropods.
  • The Boeing "Exploring Flight and Design" flight exhibit which includes flight simulators and a giant "wind wall" made of thousands of tiny reflective discs that show air currents generated by the many propellers in the room.
  • The FETCH! Lab is located just off of Flight and Design.