MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Birthday wishes are in order for the Flint Hills Discovery Center. The interactive science and history learning center in Manhattan turned one Saturday.
"The Flint Hills Discovery Center has been a great success for the city of Manhattan and the entire Flint Hills region... This has been the best experience- to come to work in a building that is this gorgeous, this open, such a positive message about the Flint Hills and encouraging people to love and appreciate what's right here in our own backyard. It's a thrill to be a part of that," said Susan Adams, interim administrator.
The celebration included free admission for guests, games, prizes and family activities. Some 2,000 visitors got a chance to see the permanent and temporary exhibits and 4D theater.
The facility surpassed all expectations in its first year with more than 72,000 visitors, more than 3,500 members and 150 special events.
"We’ve also attracted visitors from all 50 states to include the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and we’ve had 17 people from foreign countries so you can see that this is going to become a well known place and it’s going to be a destination. We’re trying to make Manhattan a destination, no longer just a bypass to drive down I-70," said Manhattan Mayor Loren Pepperd during a ceremony before the doors opened Saturday.
The Flint Hills Discovery Center also introduced new Director Fred Goss. Goss was selected from an initial pool of more than 45 applicants identified through a national search and was chosen from four finalists that went through an extensive interview and selection process. Goss starts on May 1st. He currently serves as Assistant Superintended for the Missouri State Parks. He replaces Bob Workman who resigned from the position to become the new director of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University.
Goss says he wants to build on the center’s momentum.
"We want to have people come here to Manhattan, to this part of Kansas to enjoy what we have and then ultimately to go to those 22 counties that make up the geographical area of the Flint Hills to really understand and experience and be inspired to explore that area. That’s ultimately the goal. We want to be a gateway to that and the steward of the information and share that with the individuals that come here," he told WIBW.
Officials also announced that the center has received LEED Gold green building certification for their environmentally friendly design and energy efficiency, including their lighting and geothermal heating/cooling system.