Exploration Place is a science museum located on the west side of the Arkansas River in the Delano neighborhood of Wichita, Kansas, United States. It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit institution.
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, Sedgwick County began its partial funding of the science center. The museum is also supported by admissions, membership dues, other public support and voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations. In 2017 the museum is expected to reach approximately 200,000 attendees.
A view of the floor to ceiling windows on the island 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.
Boeing Dome Theater and Planetarium
This venue is the largest dome theater in Kansas with a 60-foot high, 360-degree screen. It shows digital films. General museum admission is not required to see a show at the dome.
Kemper Creative Learning Studio
This venue is a 150-seat theater equipped with audio/visual equipment, sound system, podium and stage lighting. It is the home of live science shows.
Where Kids Rule
three-story castle at Exploration Place.
- Big Mouth - a seven-foot tall model of the human mouth that tests good oral health knowledge
- Bridging Art and Science - featuring local artists whose work illustrates the important ties between art and science
- Exploring Flight and Design - includes flight simulators and a giant "wind wall" made of thousands of tiny reflective discs that show air currents generated by a real airplane propeller and two wind generators mounted on a tower.
- Explore Kansas - features facts about the state's land, water, weather and inhabitants.
- Kansas in Miniature - a small-scale recreation of early-1950s Kansas buildings, landmarks and more.
- KEVA: Build Your Mind - features 4 1/2-inch long KEVA Planks and focuses on design aesthetics and engineering.
- Nano - features real world applications to nano-scale science, engineering, and technology
- Tots' Spot - an immersive area for toddlers to play with educational toys and costumes.
- Traveling exhibits - an area which has hosted more than 30 different temporary exhibits including A T. rex Named Sue, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, CSI: The Experience, and Star Wars:® Where Science Meets Imagination and currently Hall of Heroes (May 20, 2017 - Jan. 1, 2018).
- Where Kids Rule - includes a three-story medieval castle where children can experience more than 60 hands-on, STEM-based exhibits.
This 1,900 square-foot shopping extravaganza connects you to science, educational toys and even funky fun! The store is now one of the few places in the area to feature fair trade items. All purchases help support Exploration Place. General museum admission is not required to shop the store.
- MiniGolf - 18-hole putting course
- Exploration Park - free venue that includes wetlands habitat, adventure play yard, picnic groves and Festival Plaza
Hours and admission
- Monday to Saturday = 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday = Noon to 5 p.m.
- Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Closed most Mondays during Winter (call first).
- Museum admission
- Senior (65+) = $8.00
- Adult (12-64) = $9.50
- Youth (3-11) = $6.00
- Children (under 3) = Free
- Dome admission
- Senior (65+) = $4.00
- Adults (12-64) = $5.00
- Youth (3-11) = $3.00
- Children (under 3) = Free