Exploration Place, the Sedgwick County Science and Discovery Center, has broken its all-time attendance record with 363,047 visitors in the 2022-23 fiscal year. According to a news release, the previous high of 348,532 was in 2000-01, the science center’s first year of operation. Exploration Place has also set a new membership record of 9,203 households, reflecting a substantial 45% growth from the previous year.
President and CEO Adam Smith attributes the success of to a combination of factors, including strong programming and a post-pandemic desire for families to spend more quality time together.
“We’ve worked really hard to offer creative and fun exhibits, movies, events and programs that are appealing to the public,” Smith said. “The number I’m most proud of is the growth in our member households, which tells me that families in Sedgwick County are finding increased value in our museum.”
Smith said it is an organizational priority to make sure Exploration Place is accessible to all, with 26,361 free admissions provided during the year. This included 8,799 free field trips for students from Title 1 schools and 200 free STEM camp scholarships.
Free admissions are offered through the Museums for All program, which is open to anyone receiving federal food assistance by showing a SNAP EBT card. Exploration Place is also free to Blue Star families (active duty military) from Armed Forces Day through Labor Day, and other free visits are available by checking out passes from local libraries.
Exploration Place anticipates welcoming its 5 millionth visitor before the end of 2023. “The best is yet to come,” Smith said. “We have a strong program coming up including the Drone Light Festival, three LEGO-themed exhibits, and a DC Super Heroes exhibit. And next year we begin a multi-year expansion on our 20-acre riverfront site that will propel us to exciting new heights.”