Archive for Monday, July 22, 2002

Cosmosphere withholds some displays

July 22, 2002

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— Not all of the treasures at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center are on display.

Behind the scenes in two warehouses and a collections area in the museum's lower level is one of the most expansive collections of space memorabilia in the world.

From rocket engines to training equipment and even props used for the movie "Apollo 13," the Cosmosphere's collection is so expansive there isn't enough room to display everything for the public.

"We have about 12,000 items, and only about 9 percent are on display," said Jim Remar, director of collections, exhibits and buildings.

"At least here we can preserve them so they won't deteriorate," he said.

The Cosmosphere recently received a $154,300 federal grant to renovate its collections and research space, including storage, archive and warehouse areas.

"This is a federal grant, so to even be considered for this we had to make the case that we had a collection of national importance," said Karen Siebert, director of marketing and advancement at the Cosmosphere. "These artifacts aren't just for Hutchinson, and they aren't just for Kansas. We are preserving them for the nation."

The new collections area will make cataloging and inventory easier for the Cosmosphere's thousands of artifacts. The state requires the Cosmosphere to perform a yearly inventory to make sure the collection database is accurate.

Among the items hidden away is a silver metal scoop still covered in moon dust from a lunar experiment. It was brought back to Earth by astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad on the Apollo 12 moon mission.

The Cosmosphere also has a Saturn V rocket's instrument panel, a red Mercury-era launch escape tower, a life raft used in the Apollo program and a variety of space suits.

"When you come to the warehouses and storage areas, you get a feel of what we have, and it's second to none," Remar said. "I wish we had the museum space to display these artifacts. I wish people could see them."

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