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One of the exhibits at the recently opened $24.4 million Flint Hills Discovery Center, located in Manhattan, Kansas, is an ‘underground forest’ depicting plant and insect life under the tallgrass prairie. About two-thirds of the mass of prairie grass is below the surface, protected from fire and grazing animals. This photo shows the long life-size roots of prairie grasses. Through interactive exhibits, Flint Hills Discovery Center visitors can explore the science and cultural history of the last stand of tallgrass prairie in North America – one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems. Other attractions of the Flint Hills Discovery Center include: a 15-minute ‘immersive experience’ film which has special effects such as fog, mist and wind which appear in the theater as the high definition film is shown on a large panoramic screen; explanations of importance of fire to the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie; and exhibits about the people and cultural history of the Flint Hills. The Flint Hills Discovery Center was designed by the museum architectural firm Vern Johnson Inc. with interpretive design and planning by Hilferty and Associates. The 34,900 square foot science and history learning center features permanent interactive exhibits, temporary exhibits, and areas for community programs and outreach activities. The Flint Hills Discovery Center received a LEED green building certification for their environmental design and energy efficiency, including their lighting and geothermal heating/cooling system.
- Flint Hills Discovery Center underground forest 1.jpg
- © 2012 John L. Dengler
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