Founding The Cosmosphere
What is now one
of the world’s premier space
museums was once the dream of a Hutchinson civic
leader, Patricia Brooks Carey. Her vision to create
one of the first public planetariums in the central
United States had humble beginnings. In 1962, the
Hutchinson Planetarium opened inside the Poultry
Building on the Kansas State Fairgrounds with a
used star projector and rented folding chairs.
Four years later,
the Hutchinson Planetarium relocated to the campus
of Hutchinson Community College, in what today
houses Dr. Goddard’s Lab.
In 1976, Carey
and the Hutchinson Planetarium’s
board of directors began planning to significantly
expand the facility. They sought the advice of
former employee Max Ary, who had worked for the
planetarium while going to college. Ary was the
director of Ft. Worth’s Noble Planetarium
at the time and happened to be serving on a Smithsonian
committee that placed tens of thousands of space
artifacts in museums after the Apollo program concluded.
So the Cosmosphere was in the right place at the
Launched as the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discover
Center in 1980, the new facility featured permanent
exhibit galleries in the Hall of Space Museum,
one of the first OMNIMAX theaters in the world
and the planetarium that started it all.
In 1997, the facility was further renovated and expanded
to its present size, 105,000 square feet, nearly
tripling the area devoted to the Hall of Space Museum.
Today the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is
one of the most comprehensive space museums in the
world and one of the leading educational tourist
attractions in the United States.