FHSU museum pumps millions of dollars into local economy,
reinforces its image as the place to go for world-class exhibits
HAYS, KS -- Representatives from Fort Hays State University, the Sternberg Museum of Natural History and the local community put the finishing touches to another successful traveling exhibit during a ceremony this morning at the museum.
Dr. Jerry Choate, director of the Sternberg Museum, announced a total visitation of 49,283 persons during the three-month stay of "Jurassic Park: The Life and Death of Dinosaurs." The exhibit opened Feb. 2 and closed Sunday.
"Those persons came to Hays from 103 of the 105 counties of Kansas, from 45 of the 50 states, and from three foreign countries," Choate said. He said that 89 percent of the visitors were from Kansas.
As a department of Fort Hays State, the museum has a threefold mission of research, community service and education.
The "Jurassic Park" exhibit made a significant contribution to the museum's educational mission because it was a popular destination for school groups. There were 236 school tours from 150 different schools, consisting of 6,924 children accompanied by 1,659 teachers and other adults.
"The Sternberg Museum continues to provide outstanding educational exhibitions and programs to the citizens of Kansas," Choate said. "It truly is the closest thing Kansas has to a state museum of natural history. The museum has two outstanding exhibitions scheduled for this summer, both related to animals (including blind humans) that live in the dark."
"Jurassic Park" was the second most popular traveling exhibit in the museum's brief three years of existence in its new home, falling short of the 105,713 visitors who saw "A T. rex Named Sue" last year. Despite a smaller attendance for "Jurassic Park" -- possibly due to a softer economy and the generally chilling effect of terrorist acts on the travel industry -- the exhibit generated a huge impact on the local economy.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, estimated that "Jurassic Park" generated nearly $3 million in direct impact. "We estimate the total economic impact after multiplier effects are applied would easily surpass $5 million," he added.
A detailed examination of the economic impact has not yet been possible because the final attendance figures were not available until Monday. The $3 million in direct impact and the $5 million impact including multipliers were extrapolated as percentages of the economic impact produced by "Sue."
Every two years, FHSU's College of Business and Leadership and the university's Docking Institute of Public Affairs measure the economic impact of the university on Hays and Ellis County. The latest study was completed recently, and the president revealed those numbers.
"The direct economic impact of Sternberg Museum for all of the year 2001 was $6,184,000," President Hammond said. "After the multiplier effects are added, the total economic impact of the Sternberg Museum on Hays and Ellis County in 2001 was $11,250,000. That is more than noteworthy, and yet the museum's impact represents only about 7 percent of the university's overall impact. For 2001, Fort Hays State University produced a direct economic impact on the local economy of $87,759,551, and a total impact with multipliers of $157,967,192."
The president added that the success of "Jurassic Park" in particular and the museum in general should be attributed in large measure to the support of local businesses, government and citizens. "This is just one more example, albeit a dramatic one, of the fact that Fort Hays State University makes our community a better place, and our community makes Fort Hays State a better university," he said.
Jana Jordan, executive director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke about the fruits of the partnership between the university and the community.
"The big exhibits that the Sternberg Museum has been able to bring to Hays have really increased our visibility in Kansas and in surrounding states," she said. "The museum has demonstrated the ability to attract world-class exhibits."
Jordan said she had personally experienced the enhanced reputation of the museum, the university and the community during trips away from Hays. "It's so nice to say Hays, Kansas, and hear people say right back to me, 'Oh, the place with the dinosaur museum.' People have it in their thoughts. I was in Wichita last year, and I just couldn't go anywhere without hearing something about Sue. Big museum exhibits and Hays are just synonymous now in people's minds. Jurassic Park has solidified that reputation."
The "Jurassic Park" exhibit featured a full-mount fossil cast of Giganotosaurus (GIG-a-NO-to-SAW-rus), a new species discovered in Patagonia, Argentina, in 1993 -- larger than the largest Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. It was the largest collection of dinosaur skeletons traveling in the United States.
"Jurassic Park: The Life and Death of Dinosaurs," developed by Don Lessem, was a production of Amblin Entertainment, Universal Studios and MCA/Universal Merchandising Inc.