New museum’s plans based on role in local economy

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As the city of Manhattan continues plans for the South End Redevelopment Project, plans for the project’s centerpiece museum are underway as well.

“Birthing a new institution is tough,” said Bob Workman, director of the Flint Hills Discovery Center. “You got to do it right.”

“It makes all the difference having the right players on the team when you begin,” Workman said. “The city was very smart in hiring Vernon Johnson & Associates.”

Workman said the city of Manhattan has carefully considered a number of aspects in planning the development of the new museum.

“The people involved in this have been looking at the overall picture – not just ‘If you build it, they will come.'” Workman said. “It’s really based on a thoughtful look at the museum’s role in economic development.

“Museums have been major catalysts for economic development in many areas in the United States, particularly in the last couple of decades. A museum can really become a major force in the community … particularly a community that’s looking to enhance its quality of life resources.”

Tourism and local quality of life may be important factors in planning the center, but Workman said these motivations are only supplements to the primary goal of the institution.

“Most importantly, it’s about celebrating aspects of what makes this amazing place really special,” Workman said.

His Tuesday night presentation on the development of the center covered a variety of subjects, like the museum’s design, emphasizing what he called “the concept of man shaping nature and nature shaping man.”

Alex Jarchow, sophomore in journalism and mass communications, said he anticipates the museum’s exhibits.

“They look like they would be really fun and interactive,” Jarchow said. “I think it will be good toward the community … just as a place to come and maybe have some fun.”

Vickie Brown, senior in park management, natural resources and environmental science, and agricultural communications and journalism, said she is also hoping for big results.

“I’m looking to get tourists in from I-70 so people won’t just drive by,” Brown said. “K-State’s a big attraction here, but we like to show the Flint Hills and why we do so much research here and why it’s important.”

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