HAYS, KS - The first year has been fun, exciting and wonderfully successful for Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History, so it's time for a party museum-style!
From Saturday, April 1, through Tuesday, April 4, the Sternberg Museum will be the site of wide-ranging activities to mark the end of the first year in its new home adjacent to Interstate 70 in northeast Hays. The activities will include a visit by a world-renowned expert on dinosaurs, reduced admission prices to the museum, hands-on activities for children, guided tours of holdings in the museum's closed collections area and much, much more.
The museum has long been known as a premier research institution. Its collections of more than 3,750,000 artifacts and specimens are the world's largest at a small university. The holdings make the Sternberg one of the top 20 museums in size alone in the United States. Its collection of fossil grasses is the largest in the world, its mammal collection is in the top 20 in North America and its collection of flying reptiles is the third largest in the world, behind only Yale University and the British Museum of Natural History.
The $11 million project of renovating a former health club took several years, and the relocated museum opened to great fanfare on March 13, 1999.
Before closing in 1995 to prepare for the move to its new home in the renovated health club, the Sternberg drew just 20,000 visitors a year. University officials were not sure what to expect, but they hoped the new Sternberg Museum might draw 150,000 or more visitors a year, including thousands of school children from around the state.
Those hopes were realized. The museum complex - which includes the museum proper, the Sternberg Museum Store and Expeditions Restaurant - received about 156,755 visits as of Sunday, March 12, which completed the first year of operations. That figure includes paid attendance to the museum proper of 121,005, plus an estimated 35,750 people who visited the Sternberg Museum Store or Expeditions Restaurant but did not tour the museum.
So now it's time to celebrate. From Saturday through Tuesday, April 1-4, admission prices will be reduced to $3 for adults and $2 for children and senior citizens. The regular admission prices are $5 and $3. The Sternberg Museum Store will offer special discounts throughout the celebration, and Expeditions Restaurant will give a 10 percent discount after 5 p.m. with proof of purchase of a museum admission.
The celebration will kick off Saturday morning with breakfast at Expeditions. Just $6 will buy both breakfast and admission to the museum. A free Children's Storytime at 11 a.m. will be presented by children from Lincoln Elementary School on their efforts to make the Pteranodon the official state fossil for Kansas. Saturday will also feature the rare opportunity to see the collections area that is not part of the public display. Dr. Jerry Choate, director of the museum, will lead those tours every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The education staff will offer hands-on activities for children inside the museum during the afternoon. Also, the recently opened mini theatre inside the museum will show videos for children. In the evening, there will be a free showing of the popular film Jurassic Park in the museum's Seibel Lobby.
Sunday will repeat the package of brunch at Expeditions with admission to the museum, again for the combined low price of $6. The afternoon will feature the "Meet a Scientist" event, in which museum curators will explain their scientific research topics and identify items brought to the museum by visitors. This will be a rare opportunity for adults and children to learn about the museum's role in scientific research. A fun event during the afternoon will be kite flying in a field next to the museum. People can bring their own kites, buy kites in the Sternberg Museum Store, or just come and watch. The day will conclude with a free showing of the movie Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World in the Seibel Lobby.
On Monday, there will be another free Children's Storytime at 4 p.m., addressing the topic of tornadoes. Next, the Seibel Lobby will be the location of a historic "first" in the life of Fort Hays State University. The public is invited to come at 5:30 p.m. and see the unveiling of the new Tiger mascot. For the very first time, the university will have only one official image for its Tiger. Free buttons showing off the new Tiger will be given away at the unveiling, other prizes will be awarded and the Sternberg Museum Store will sell clothing and other items bearing the university's new Tiger. The 30-minute unveiling will be an especially lively and fun event.
The final day of the celebration will begin with a birthday party at 10 a.m. for two groups of students. The Sternberg Museum is a popular destination for field trips, and two lucky groups that had been scheduled for a visit that day - a Head Start class from Hoisington and a class of second-graders from Garden City - will get to enjoy a specially decorated birthday cake.
The highlight of the day, though, will be the appearance of Dr. Philip J. Currie, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, Canada, and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Calgary. Dr. Currie will be guest of honor at a "Meet the Author" book signing from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Sternberg Museum Store. He has published 10 books and more than 135 articles in scientific and popular journals. Then, at 7 p.m. in the Fort Hays Ballroom of the university's Memorial Union, Dr. Currie will speak as part of Fort Hays State University's continuing Presidential Lecture Series. His talk, which is aimed at a general audience, is titled, "In the Footsteps of the Sternbergs: Hunting Dinosaurs in the Badlands of the Red Deer River, Alberta, Canada." Admission is free, and a reception will follow the hour-long lecture.
Make plans now to attend one or many of the special events to celebrate the first birthday of the new Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
Note to Editors/News Directors: Media are welcome at all the events. Please contact the Office of University Relations for further information or for assistance with special arrangements.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
April 1-4, 2000
Saturday, April 1
9-10:30 a.m. - Celebration Kickoff: Breakfast at Expeditions and museum admission for $6.00.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - "Behind the Scenes" museum tours: the regular tour plus a peek at interesting items in storage that are not on display. Tours begin every hour on the hour; limited number in each tour group.
11 a.m. - Children's Storytime: Presented by the Sternberg Museum Store in the museum's Seibel Lobby. Children from Lincoln Elementary School will make a presentation on their efforts to have the Pteranodon approved as the official state fossil for Kansas. Free admission to the storytime session.
1-6 p.m. - Special "hands on" activities for children inside the museum.
1-5 p.m. - Educational videos for children in the new mini theatre; limited seating.
7 p.m - Special showing of the movie Jurassic Park in the Seibel Lobby. Free admission to the movie.
Sunday, April 2
11 a.m.-1 p.m. - Brunch at Expeditions and museum admission for $6.00.
1-5 p.m. - "Meet a Scientist" at information booths in the Seibel Lobby. Various experts will visit with adults and children about museum-related scientific topics and projects. Free of charge
2-4 p.m. - Kite flying for children and adults in the field outside the museum. Free of charge.
7 p.m. - Special showing of the movie Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World in the Seibel Lobby. Free admission to the movie.
Monday, April 3
4 p.m. - Children's Storytime: Presented by the Sternberg Museum Store in the Seibel Lobby. Free admission to the storytime session.
5:30 p.m. - Public unveiling of FHSU's new Tiger mascot in the Seibel Lobby. Lots of prizes and surprises. Free admission. Merchandise with the new mascot will be available at the museum store.
Tuesday, April 4
10 a.m. - Sternberg birthday party with birthday cake. (Limited to two scheduled tour groups - the Hoisington USD 495 Headstart class and the second-grade class from St. Mary Elementary School in Garden City - and to invited guests.)
2-5 p.m. - "Meet the Author" book signing by Dr. Philip Currie at the museum store. Books will be available for purchase.
7-8 p.m. - FHSU Presidential Lecture by Dr. Philip Currie in the Fort Hays Ballroom of the FHSU Memorial Union. A reception for Dr. Currie will follow, including the opportunity for book signings. Free of charge.
Throughout the Celebration (April 1-4)
Reduced prices for museum admission: $3 for adults and $2 for children.
Special discounts on merchandise at the Sternberg Museum Store.
10% discount at Expeditions after 5 p.m. with proof of purchase of museum admission.