Things are changing at Exploration Place.
Over the past few months, the science museum has been retooling its permanent “Exploring Our Only Home” exhibition, which is filled with Kansas-related facts, history and science.
On Saturday, Exploration Place will unveil the renovated exhibit, now simplified as “Explore Kansas.” Renovations have been underway for the past few months, according to Christina Bluml, the museum’s director of marketing.
“We want everybody to have a great experience in exhibits, and they get loved a lot,” said Laurel Zhang, director of special projects at Exploration Place. “Sometimes they need to get that facelift to get that new update, and of course bringing color in is a big thing around here.”
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Some of the changes:
▪ The museum’s bed of nails, where kids could press their hands to create a sort of 3-D model, has been replaced by an exhibition about bison. The tables where the nails once were are repurposed to hold large rocks found in Kansas (chalk, limestone and more).
▪ Addition of an exhibit that explores how oil and gas came to form in Kansas.
▪ The area displaying Kansas’ native soils and plants has been expanded and brought out, along with a panel on bees.
▪ Addition of a replica combine, which allows people to climb inside and virtually simulate harvesting four different crops.
▪ Improvements to the popular wind tornado generator in the corner of the exhibition.
▪ Overhaul of the “archaeological site” in the middle, including the addition of a life-size Xiphactinus fish head replica.
▪ The mammoth tusk that was found years ago on the Exploration Place site is now hanging from the ceiling.
▪ Addition of a “storm chaser truck,” which teaches about meteorology and forecasting.
The museum’s aquifer exhibit, opened last summer in the cave portion of “Explore Kansas,” remains unchanged, as does the fan-favorite water-themed areas where kids construct a dam out of artificial sand (actually ground-up plastic bottles) and control water flow.
Zhang said updating the museum’s permanent exhibits is “respectful” for its patrons.
“We want the current science on everything, because science is not static – it’s changing all the time,” Zhang said. “Kansas is not a boring or static place. It’s got so much to give, and there’s so much to learn here.”
Various community organizations will be at Exploration Place on Saturday – Earth Day – to provide hands-on activities tied to the exhibition. Among the organizations that will be on hand: The Land Institute, Milford Nature Center, Kansas Strong, Rose Hill Veterinary Clinic, Strataca, Sierra Club and Kansas Clean Streams.
The renovation of “Explore Kansas” is part of the museum’s overall efforts to freshen up its permanent collection. The museum plans to overhaul its “Design, Build, Fly” area this year as well, with an expected completion in the fall.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $9.50 for ages 12-64; $8 for ages 65 and older; $6 for ages 3-11
More info: http://exploration.org/