Arts & Culture

Conquer your fears at adults-only Exploration Place event

Michelle Wellington confronts her fear of falling with the help of employee Austin Wills as she visits the traveling exhibit “Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear” at Exploration Place. The display will be part of “Beers and Fears” this Friday.
Michelle Wellington confronts her fear of falling with the help of employee Austin Wills as she visits the traveling exhibit “Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear” at Exploration Place. The display will be part of “Beers and Fears” this Friday. The Wichita Eagle

This Friday, Exploration Place wants to help adults conquer some common fears, and it’s offering a little liquid courage as an incentive.

The museum’s adults-only “Fears and Beers” event is tied to its current traveling exhibit, “Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear.”

For courage, guests will receive a souvenir plastic beer mug and samples from Hopping Gnome Brewery and Wichita Brewing Co.

They may need it to go up in an 85-foot lift, eat bugs or let an acupuncturist insert a needle into their arms.

“We have been doing a family version of this event called the ‘Fear Buster Challenge,’ and people just loved it so much,” said Christina Bluml, Exploration Place’s director of marketing. “And then we were thinking, ‘Why don’t we do something for the adults and make it a little more grown up?’ ”

Exploration Place has found a way to incorporate many common fears into the evening – not just the gross-out ones.

For example, dental hygienists will be on hand to help people get to the “root” of their dental phobia.

Public speaking is another common fear.

That’s where Toastmasters comes in. Members of local clubs will be on hand with a microphone and table topics, encouraging attendees to step up and speak.

Mike Arensburg of Wichita’s Aero Achievers Club knows the anxiety well. Before he joined Toastmasters, he avoided presentations at work.

“My throat closed up,” he said. “I couldn’t find the words.”

Arensburg referred to a Jerry Seinfeld joke: “Most folks would rather be in the casket than be up front giving the eulogy.”

Arensburg has been at some of Exploration Place’s “Fear Buster Challenges” this summer, and he said the parents would almost push their kids forward to the microphone. At Friday’s adults-only event, they won’t have that shield.

Other activities will include:

▪ Walking through a narrow tunnel in a dark room before the walls collapse.

▪ Encountering a pit bull (that happens to be up for adoption).

▪ Petting a bull snake.

▪ Creating a mixture of “vomit” and trying to get friends to touch it.

▪ Making it past the “walking dead” stumbling around at an exhibit entrance.

A “Fears and Beers” ticket also includes access to all museum exhibits, a photo booth, karaoke, a Tesla coil demonstration and the “Pink Floyd Cosmic Light Show.”

Attendees will have an opportunity to face their “fear of calories” with indulgent snacks, and there also will be a cash bar and additional food for purchase from local food trucks.

Bluml said the “Fears and Beers” event represents a concerted effort by the museum to broaden its appeal.

“We’re an attraction for the community, and we’re trying to reach out,” she said. “Our general audience is families, of course, and we love that they are coming, but we do recognize that there are young adults in this community that want to have fun things to do. We are trying to offer those fun events where they can come out, enjoy the museum in the evening and do different activities that are tied to our mission of growing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.”

“Fears and Beers” should do just that – if adults dare to try it.

If You Go

Fears and Beers

When: 7-10 p.m. Friday (Ages: 21 and over)

Where: Exploration Place, 300 N. Mclean Blvd.

Tickets: $15 in advance; at the door, $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers; www.exploration.org, 316-660-0600

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