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Sedgwick County Hires New President For Exploration Place

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Exploration Place, Twitter
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Sedgwick County hired a new president and CEO for Exploration Place Wednesday.

Adam Smith starts his job at the nonprofit Wichita science center Nov. 11.

Smith has worked in the museum field for more than 20 years and most recently served as executive director for Comic-Con Museum in San Diego.

Deputy County Manager Tim Kaufman says Smith’s museum leadership experience put him at the top of more than 70 applicants.

“His interests include aviation, and his vision and experience regarding STEM education positions him perfectly to become the next leader of Exploration Place,” Kaufman says.

Smith is expected to continue the museum’s momentum. Exploration Place saw increases in yearly attendance and memberships the past few years. Nearly 300,000 people are expected to visit the museum this year.

Exploration Place has opened new permanent and traveling exhibits in the past year including “Design Build Fly,” an all-aviation exhibit focused on engineering and advanced manufacturing. New dome theater projection equipment was also installed.

Smith replaces Jan Luth who is retiring as president next week. Luth led Exploration Place for the past nine years. Her career in the museum and science center industry spans 35 years.

Sedgwick County will pay the bulk of Smith’s $145,000 salary. The Exploration Place Board of Trustees contributes a portion.

Commissioner Jim Howell is a member of Exploration Place Board of Trustees. He says he was impressed with Smith’s experience.

“I know that his connection to aviation got me very excited. He is a passionate person, and I think it’s a good fit for our community,” Howell says.

Exploration Place will reach its 20th-anniversary next spring.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.