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Sternberg preps for 15th party




Reese Barrick wasn't around to see it, but he's heard the stories about what happened in 1999.

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Reese Barrick wasn't around to see it, but he's heard the stories about what happened in 1999.

"Blizzard," said Barrick, director of Sternberg Museum of Natural History.

On the eve of the grand opening of Sternberg Museum of Natural History at its current location, 3000 Sternberg Drive, Mother Nature dumped 11 inches of snow. The next day, March 13, 1999, Fort Hays State University's museum still opened.

Barrick is hoping for better weather Saturday as Sternberg celebrates its 15th anniversary.

"I was hoping we don't have a blizzard this weekend," he said. "I know anything's possible around here."

There's no blizzard in the forecast for Saturday, but there is a chance of a wintry mix in the morning before giving way to clearing skies and a high in the 40s.

To celebrate its 15-year existence, admission prices and memberships will revert to what they were in 1999 -- for Saturday only. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets for adults will reduce from $8 to $4; tickets for children, senior citizens and FHSU students will be $2, a decrease from $5 for children, $6 for senior citizens and $4 for FHSU students. Memberships will be reduced from $65 to $50 for families; from $35 to $25 for individuals; and from $25 to $15 for senior citizens (age 60 or older) and FHSU students.

As well, there will be some animals -- a turtle and snakes -- on display Saturday that were part of the museum collection when it opened in 1999.

There also will be free Kansas fossil posters given out to the first 100 children. In addition, there will be Kansas wildlife prints for sale.

"It seemed like every five years, it was a good time to reflect on where it is today, and things that have changed in that amount of time," said Barrick, who has been with the museum since 2009. "It's nice to look back and see how the community and the university really came together to bring the museum out here, establish it."

The 102,000-square-foot building located near Interstate 70 was built in 1984 and housed Beacon Hill Spa and Health Club. It later was called the Metroplex, and at various times housed the spa and health club, bowling alley, radio station and upscale restaurant, according to the FHSU website.

After the building was closed, FHSU's Endowment Association bid $1 at a foreclosure auction in 1991, then paid an $8 fee to register the deed, according to the school's website. The Endowment Association transferred the title to the property to the state, and the building was completely renovated.

As the museum celebrates its past, it also looks to the future, Barrick said.

"We're also going to start working on some major new additions, or attractions, to the museum," Barrick said. "It's something I hope will make the museum and the community more of a destination as opposed to just a couple hours stop and visit."