What is now one of the world’s premier space museums was once the dream of a Hutchinson civic leader, Patricia Brooks Carey. Her vision to create one of the first public planetariums in the central United States had humble beginnings. In 1962, the Hutchinson Planetarium opened inside the Poultry Building on the Kansas State Fairgrounds with a used star projector and rented folding chairs.Four years later, the Hutchinson Planetarium relocated to the campus of Hutchinson Community College, in what today houses Dr. Goddard’s Lab.In 1976, Carey and the Hutchinson Planetarium’s board of directors began planning to significantly expand the facility. They sought the advice of former employee Max Ary, who had worked for the planetarium while going to college. Ary was the director of Ft. Worth’s Noble Planetarium at the time and happened to be serving on a Smithsonian committee that placed tens of thousands of space artifacts in museums after the Apollo program concluded.So the Cosmosphere was in the right place at the right time.Launched as the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discover Center in 1980, the new facility featured permanent exhibit galleries in the Hall of Space Museum, one of the first OMNIMAX theaters in the world and the planetarium that started it all.In 1997, the facility was further renovated and expanded to its present size, 105,000 square feet, nearly tripling the area devoted to the Hall of Space Museum. Today the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is one of the most comprehensive space museums in the world and one of the leading educational tourist attractions in the United States.
The museum currently owns or has on loan approximately 40 historically significant aircraft. Some have been fully restored while others are pending restoration. Our lineup includes some especially notable airplanes.• Beech Starship• Boeing B-52 Stratofortress• 1934 Model 73 Stearman Trainer• KC 135E refueling tanker• 1927 Laird SwallowExplore our extensive displays of aircraft and engines from throughout the history of modern aviation. Climb our control tower, built in 1941, for a birds-eye view of the surrounding area. Or, with prior arrangement, investigate our wide-ranging archive of more than 200,000 photographs, documents, books and aviation-related memorabilia.The Kansas Aviation Museum focuses on aircraft education and memorabilia with a Kansas connection. Our building and exhibits proudly highlight the pivotal role that Wichita and Kansas played and continue to play in aviation history.
Our organization was first established in March 1990 as a Detachment of the Combat Air Museum of Topeka, Kansas. We began with 15 members, 1 display case and a small office at the Augusta Municipal Airport.Named as Combat Air Museum Det 1 we moved into an empty industrial building at 1304 Money Street in 1991. The organization was incorporated by the State of Kansas in May of 1992 and received our federal recognition by the Internal Revenue Service as a scientific and educational museum that fall. Soon after CAM Det 1 parted with Combat Air Museum and became the Augusta Air Museum. An offer to purchase our 16,500 sq ft present location for 1 dollar was accepted by the Williams Pipeline Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma on December 17, 1993.As the museum grew over the years so did our military donations. In fact, so much more than aviation donations that our board, in 2007, elected to change the museum\’s name to the Kansas Museum of Military History in order to better reflect the collections and exhibits.