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Artifacts' Fate Contested at Noted Space Museum

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan., houses artifacts ranging from rockets to flight jackets.
Greg Allen, NPR
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan., houses artifacts ranging from rockets to flight jackets.

A famed Kansas space museum finds itself at the center of a criminal case over the fate of several NASA artifacts. The museum's former president has been charged with selling several items that were on loan to the museum.

Max Ary led the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan., for more than 25 years; he left to head another space museum three years ago. He now faces theft and fraud charges, accused of selling six items belonging to NASA and trading several others. Prosecutors say Ary made about $180,000 from the transactions.

Ary, a co-founder of the Cosmosphere, is credited with taking an obscure planetarium, once a fixture at the Kansas State Fair, and creating a world-class museum that draws some 300,000 visitors each year. The museum's collection includes the Apollo 13 command module and the Liberty Bell 7 space capsule, recovered and restored after spending 38 years on the ocean floor.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.
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