When Fort Hays State University embarked on the ambitious project of relocating and expanding the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, officials said they hoped to see about 150,000 visitors in the first year of operation.
The estimated total number of visitors to the museum complex between opening on March 13, 1999, and closing on Sunday, March 12, 2000, is about 156,755.
That figure includes paid attendance to the museum proper of 121,005 plus approximately 35,750 additional people who visited the Sternberg Museum Store and Expeditions, the museum restaurant, but did not tour the museum.
About 45,000 people ate at Expeditions during the first year, and about 105,000 people visited the museum store.
Expeditions has become a popular attraction for lunch and dinner, and the university estimates that about three-fourths of the restaurant patrons should be counted separately because they do not include a tour of the museum with their lunch or dinner.
The manager of the museum store, Carol Blocksome, estimated that 2,000 of the store's estimated 105,000 visitors in the first year did not visit the museum. She said the Christmas season was especially heavy with visitors to the museum complex who came only to the store.
The 121,005 people who paid for admission to the museum, together with the estimated 33,750 people who visited only Expeditions and the 2,000 people who visited only the museum store, total the estimate of 156,755.
"Frankly, we did not know what to expect when we undertook the creation of this facility," said Kent Steward, director of the Office of University Relations. "It is extremely rewarding that more than 150,000 individuals have had an opportunity to visit this educational and entertaining complex. We hope to see many more in the future."