It’s Thursday and time for another edition of Around the Town Thursday! We’re still hanging out in Hutchinson for Museum Day Live! but we’ve moved from Strataca – Kansas Underground Salt Museum to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center!
Mercury-Redstone Rocket located outside the Cosmosphere’s main entrance
Since D1 and I were already in Hutchinson we decided to go to both the Salt Museum and Cosmosphere on Museum Day Live. The great thing about the Cosmosphere is that there’s something there for everyone…literally. Besides the museum and it’s massive amount of exhibits, there are films, planetarium shows, an A/V tour, flight simulator and a special conservation project tour. You can pick and choose what you see and do while at the museum, but whatever you do make sure you allow plenty of time! The Cosmosphere website offers sample itineraries for various amounts of time which are good guidelines. Here’s my couple of pennies worth: forget doing anything else the day you visit the Cosmosphere because it’s absolutely worth spending all day there!
D1 and I were on limited time because Ginger J had a Boy Scout function that evening so we knew we wouldn’t be able to do everything. We skipped the shows (and didn’t know about the conservation project tour) and we headed straight into the museum. I’ve been to the Cosmosphere before but it’s been a very long time. There was a new feature I hadn’t seen before prior to entering the museum: you could stand in front of one of the museum’s beautiful murals and have your picture taken!
D1 and me at the Cosmosphere in front of a mural honoring the founder, Patty Carey,
and the development of the Cosmosphere Mural painted by Robert McCall
My favorite piece of artwork at the museum is the stained glass window above the entrance to the exhibits which pays tribute to lost astronauts.
It’s a beautiful piece and I can’t help but stare at it whenever I go to the museum.
The museum is chronologically laid out very well. As for the actual layout I personally don’t care for all the angles, I feel that it causes the museum to be disjointed and, at times, difficult to know which direction to go and what to see next. That, however, is my only complaint about this museum and it’s a minor complaint at that. The museum is packed FULL of great exhibits and information. It takes you step by step from the very beginning of the space race to as current as they can get it without compromising current projects. There’s even a small exhibit about the Berlin wall. It amazes me how many exhibits the museum staff has been able to fit into the space they have in the museum. I’d love to see the museum be given the opportunity to have a larger building. I can only imagine what the staff could do with it.
There are so many exhibits it’s hard to choose just one or two to highlight here. Some of the ones I enjoyed the most are the Berlin wall exhibit, the Kennedy exhibit, the Liberty Bell 7 and the moon rock.
A piece of the Berlin Wall on exhibit at the Cosmosphere
Moon rock on display at the Cosmosphere
Liberty Bell 7 capsule (post restoration)
Interior picture of the Liberty Bell 7 capsule (post restoration)
But out of all the exhibits there was one that was my absolute favorite: the exhibit case on John Glenn and his space flight. John Glenn was my favorite astronaut. He was smart, likable, well-respected, hard-working and just an all around good guy. While not as noticed as Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom he was an important part of the space race. It was nice to see him get some well deserved spotlight with his own exhibit case.
John Glenn: First American in orbit
Newspaper with headline announcing John Glenn’s successful orbit
There’s also a really great outdoor exhibit of the Titan rocket that you can walk around the base of. Unfortunately it was closed the day we went due to bad weather (I was a sad panda, I really enjoy looking around the Titan rocket pit). Again, there is so much to see and do there it’s impossible to list everything.
The staff was friendly and helpful. They don’t hover around you while you’re there but if you need something they’re always available. There’s a food court if you get hungry and, of course, a gift shop that has some really cool goodies for sale.
The Cosmosphere website is informative and worth checking out to help you plan your visit to the museum. I didn’t think the ticket prices were too bad for what you get. The museum has longer hours than most museums as well so there’s plenty of time to peruse the exhibits if you plan ahead a little bit. The Cosmosphere also offers opportunities for Scouts, field trips, special events and SPACE CAMP! Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be an astronaut for a week!
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center was voted one of the original 8 Wonders of Kansas. I give it an A++!