The idea of creating a new, private, not-for-profit institution out of the Children’s Museum and the OMNISPHERE had been on the minds of community leaders for years. This vision led to a City of Wichita planning study in 1989.
In 1994, a new Board of Trustees led by Phil Frick and a team of planning professionals began to lay the foundation for Exploration Place. Community input and involvement was, and would continue to be, an essential component of the development of this state’s premier science center.
The Strategic Master Plan was completed in 1994 and, along with the architectural schematic design, was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1995.
Internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie of Boston, Massachusetts designed the building and park. Safdie and Associates worked with the local architectural firm of Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey and Associates and with local engineering and construction firms.
Construction began in May 1997. Exhibit construction documents were completed and fabrication began in November 1998. With the installation of exhibits in the fall of 1999, Exploration Place opened April 1, 2000.
This $62 million project was funded through a public/private partnership. Participants included Sedgwick County, the City of Wichita, the State of Kansas, Duane and Velma Wallace, Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna Aircraft and the William T. Kemper Foundation. Community support was also received from area organizations, schools, universities, corporations and youth groups.
Exploration Place is a private 501(c)(3) not-for-profit institution governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. Through a partnership with Sedgwick County, Exploration Place currently receives support and is recognized as the Sedgwick County Science and Discovery Center. Exploration Place is also supported by admissions, memberships and voluntary contributions from the public, area businesses and foundations.