Invited guests to get peek at Discovery Center

By The Mercury

Local businesses and individuals got a sneak peek at the Flint Hills Discovery Center Tuesday afternoon, and a second group will get the same preview Thursday. The invitation-only tours, which each include about 20 people, are a part of the Discovery Center’s private fund-raising effort.

“It’s really to start a conversation about our foundation,” Melissa Kirkwood, Discovery Center development officer, said.

Kirkwood was referring to the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation, the fund-raising branch of the Discovery Center headed by former mayor Bruce Snead. The private foundation’s goal is to raise funds to support the exhibits and programs of the Discovery Center. Kirkwood said the tours are the first step to creating buzz about the foundation.

“It’s just to ensure the longstanding success of the Discovery Center,” Kirkwood said.

The Discovery Center will be partly supported by STAR bonds, but Kirkwood said private fund-raising will be important in running a quality museum for years to come.

The tours will be made up of mostly local individuals, but Kirkwood said as the April 14 opening approaches, the Discovery Center will look to regional businesses and individuals as well.

“We will kind of be casting the net out farther,” Kirkwood said.

The tours focus on the first two floors and the nearly completed exhibits.

“These will be the last two tours we probably do before our opening in April,” Kirkwood said.

The Discovery Center is a 35,000 square-foot facility that celebrates the biology, history and culture of the Flint Hills Region. The first and second floors contain interactive exhibits integrating visual and audio elements to create what the Discovery Center has termed an “immersive multi-media experience.”

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