Ex-Cosmosphere chief hired as museum consultant despite conviction

OKLAHOMA CITY | The man who was convicted of stealing artifacts from the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center has been working occasionally for another museum here, according to a published report.

Max Ary, who is free as he appeals his conviction and three-year prison term, has been used periodically as a consultant, said Don Otto, executive director of the Omniplex.

Ary started putting together some of the space exhibits when he served as director at Omniplex. He was placed on leave after being indicted in April 2005, then his contract as director was not renewed when it expired several months later.

Ary, founder and former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere, was accused of stealing artifacts from the Hutchinson museum and NASA. A jury convicted Ary in November 2005 on 12 counts, including theft of government property, wire and mail fraud, interstate transport of stolen goods and money laundering. He was ordered to pay $132,374 in restitution.

Otto said Ary’s expertise made him the logical choice to finish up the work he had started.

“This museum has no problem with Max Ary,” Otto said.