Space Center Houston passes million mark in 2016 attendance

More than one million visitors streamed through the doors of Space Center Houston in 2016, making it the best-ever year in attendance for the nonprofit. The record-breaking one-million milestone came last month, just as the center was poised to open its 25th anniversary year and unveil a new permanent exhibit before Super Bowl LI.

“A million thanks to all our visitors for joining us this year,” said center President and CEO William T. Harris. “People are more excited than ever to come here and learn about the past, present and future of space exploration. We strive to provide an exceptional learning experience for visitors of all ages.”

The milestone came at the end of an incredible year for the nonprofit including nine record-breaking months of attendance. The previous record year, 2015, had five consecutive record-breaking months. With 82 percent of the visitors coming from outside the Houston area, the center is the No. 1 destination for international visitors in Houston.

Last year, the center welcomed Harris as its new CEO, earned a 2016 Top Workplaces Award from the Houston Chronicle and received its third consecutive TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award. The Independence Plaza exhibit complex won two of the attraction industry’s highest honors — the Impact Award and Best New Product for Displays and Sets — at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo Brass Ring Awards Ceremony.

To commemorate its 25th anniversary next Oct. 16, the center begins a jubilee celebration throughout this year. The festivities open this month with the new permanent exhibit, Mission Mars, which takes visitors through a Mars portal full of interactive activities. In the future-looking exhibit, visitors will explore a virtual Martian landscape and imagine being one of the first explorers on the planet. A thought-leader speaker series also is planned.

The center will have an increased focus on educational outreach to underserved students in the Houston area. The addition of a new 5,000-square-foot special events building overlooking the colossal exhibit complex Independence Plaza will provide a unique location for private parties and corporate events.

There is always something new to see at Space Center Houston. Residents can join the 25th anniversary celebration by sharing their favorite Space Center Houston story, photo or video on social media. Use the hashtag #SpaceCenterHou. Go to its Visitor Info page for ticket prices and tips to enjoy a visit. For more information about Space Center Houston, visit spacecenter.org

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