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Archive for Saturday, December 26, 1998

KU MUSEUM EYES EXPANSION

December 26, 1998

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Expansion plans at KU's Natural History Museum include an exhibition hall and specimen storage facility with a combined price tag of at least $25 million.

Leonard Krishtalka's wish list for the Natural History Museum at Kansas University requires more than Santa's generosity to fulfill.

Krishtalka, the museum's director, would like $15 million to $20 million for a new exhibition hall connected to the existing museum in Dyche Hall. The key attractions would be skeletons of two huge plant-eating dinosaurs -- an adult and a baby -- that died 150 million years ago in a Wyoming flood and were delivered to KU in 1997.

These long-necked Cama-saurids, once cleaned for display, would stand 25 feet tall at full height. That would be too large to properly display in Dyche.

"We envision that being the centerpiece in a prehistoric Earth hall," Krishtalka said. "It would feature prehistoric life on Earth ... and processes that govern changes in life on Earth over time and how that impacts, potentially, human society."

He would prefer the new 30,000-square-foot space be connected to Dyche that would form a museum mall on campus with the Museum of Anthropology in Spooner Hall and Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art.

"This is a cultural museum district that can serve the university very, very well as an ambassador of its educational programs and research," Krishtalka said.

A feasibility study needs to be completed on such a project, but Krishtalka said the project could be completed in five years.

The second item on Krishtalka's list is a new storage facility for the Natural History Museum's collection of 7 million specimens. That could cost $10 million to $11 million.

"Our problem is that our science ... is growing faster than current space can accommodate," he said.

Museum associates and labs are spread among five KU buildings -- none of which were built to warehouse vast specimen collections. The solution would be a 50,000-square-foot building with sliding shelves to maximize storage capacity.

"Such a collection facility, thinking of economy of scale, could house other collections that are burgeoning," Krishtalka said.

He said the building projects could be financed with a combination of government and corporate funding.

-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is tcarpenter@ljworld.com.

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