No trip to the heartland is complete without a stop at one of the world’s finest science education centers and space museums—the Cosmosphere. Visitors to Hutchinson, Kansas, are amazed that a place like the Cosmosphere exists outside of a major metropolitan area, but it does. Founded in 1962 as a place for the community to see planetarium shows and learn about science and astronomy, the Smithsonian-affiliated Cosmosphere currently features one of the most significant collections of U.S. and Russian space artifacts in the world.
The Hall of Space Museum tells the story of the Space Race through incredible artifacts, beginning with a rare collection of WWII German Vengeance weapons (a V1 and V2) and ending with the Astronaut Experience Gallery. The Cosmosphere’s collection features spacecraft flown during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era as well as a Soviet Vostok and flight-ready Voskhod.
In addition to touring the museum, visitors can see live science demonstrations in Dr. Goddard’s Lab, watch large-format films in the Carey Digital Dome Theater, fly through the universe in the Justice Planetarium, and view the largest collection of space photography equipment in the world.
The Cosmosphere’s internationally recognized science education center offers robust school-group experiences. Grade-level specific, standards-based classroom curriculum packages are available and can be combined with culminating experiences set against the Cosmosphere’s artifact collection. Educational opportunities continue throughout the year with Cosmosphere Camps, a summer aerospace camp for participants age six to adult. That is right; adults can have a weekend camp experience, too. Participants learn to train like Astronauts and Mission Control teams. For information on the 16 different camps available, go to cosmo.org/camps.
Every third Saturday, Cosmosphere offers Space Out Saturday, a free family event with hands-on science demonstrations and kid-friendly tours of the museum, and on the third Thursday, visitors can enjoy Coffee at the Cosmo at 9 a.m., during which visiting experts and Cosmosphere staff deliver a variety of aerospace and science presentations. Be sure to check the event calendar on cosmo.org to verify the topic, date and time.
No visit to the Cosmosphere is complete without stopping for a bite to eat in the Cosmosphere Café, and you can find the right souvenir or gift to take home from the Cosmosphere Gift Store.
It is best for groups to plan at least four hours to take in all the venues. For more information, visit cosmo.org or call (620) 665-9316 to speak to the Groups Coordinator.