WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Exploration Place has turned itself into the canvas for a new exhibit honoring African American scientists during Black History Month. Each night of February, a giant portrait of a Black pioneer in earth and space sciences will be projected onto the side of the iconic island-building at the science center.

You will see the displays from the Arkansas riverfront path, which was recently named the busiest pedestrian and bicycle pathway in Wichita. Exploration Place encourages visitors to visit the exhibit, take and share photos, and learn about the positive impact of African American scientists on society.

“We hope this exhibit will lead to a greater appreciation of African Americans’ contributions to STEM,” Adam Smith, Exploration Place president and CEO, said. “And that through social media sharing, we can get the message out to as large an audience as possible.”

The nightly display is a collaboration with The Kansas African American Museum (TKAAM), the National Informal STEM Education Network, and Exploration Place.

“Our mission is to make the African American experience resonant to every Kansan,” Denise Sherman, TKAAM executive director, said. “It is our hope that the featured African American scientists
encourage others to learn more about STEM disciplines.”

These are the African American scientists who will be shown on the Exploration Place island-building this year:

  • Feb. 1-7: Katherine Johnson (1918 – 2020), NASA mathematician featured in the 2016 movie “HiddenFigures”
  • Feb. 8-14: Warren Washington (b. 1936), internationally recognized atmospheric scientist
  • Feb. 15-21: Mae Jemison (b. 1956), astronaut, physician, engineer
  • Feb. 22-28 John Brooks Slaughter (b. 1935), Kansas native, engineer, National Science Foundation director

Visitors are invited to stay to watch the nightly 7 p.m. Ring of Fire lighting at the Keeper of the Plains and view 12 new riverfront banners featuring a selection of women in STEM careers.

For more information about the African American scientists, visit Exploration.org/bhm.