Vote Gage Park.
What is the Vote for Gage Park Campaign?
Generations of memories have been made at Gage Park. From train rides and trips to the zoo, to summer camps and swimming, many of our community’s best childhood memories are centered around historic Gage Park.
On November 8, 2022, all voters in Shawnee County will have the opportunity to vote on a two-tenths of a penny (0.2%, or 20 cents on a $100 purchase) county-wide sales tax to fund Gage Park. The proceeds from this sales tax would be divided between the Topeka Zoo, Shawnee County Parks + Recreation and the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center for improvements to Gage Park.
What would a "yes" vote mean for the Discovery Center?
New exhibits and experiences. Dollars granted to the Discovery Center will fund capital projects, special exhibits, education programs, and outreach. In short: growth that would not be possible without this investment.
The Discovery Center currently does not receive any ongoing government funding. The museum generates some revenue from admissions, gift shop sales, and memberships. Generous donors have allowed us to build new exhibits and fund access programs. Major expansion and special exhibitions, however, are out of reach for our museum without public support.
A "yes" vote on November 8 would be the single largest community investment in this museum since our founding. It would make a massive difference for the museum's ability to bring you new experiences and attract tourists to our community. It would also strengthen the Gage Park community by funding the Topeka Zoo and Shawnee County Parks + Recreation—all dollars that will stay in Gage Park, to enhance this community treasure and reduce the park's reliance on other public dollars.
If your family enjoyed past traveling exhibits, including Children's China, the Mo Willems Pigeon exhibit, Kenya's Kids, dinosaur eggs, and the newly opened Storyland exhibit, know that your "yes" vote will ensure future traveling exhibits for the museum. These dollars would also support expanded play areas and new permanent installations.
We also know that a stronger Gage Park helps us attract more families and offer them more experiences. We look forward to new, exciting animal encounters at the Topeka Zoo, improved playgrounds in the park, more walking trails, and preservation of Gage Park's historic gems like the Reinisch Rose Garden, Animaland, and the Carousel.
How will this investment help Shawnee County?
The Discovery Center hosts more than 95,000 visitors annually. More than 1 in 4 museum visitors live outside Shawnee County, making the museum a significant tourist attraction that drives spending and economic growth. In our more than ten years of operation, we have attracted more than 800,000 visitors from all 50 states and 23 countries.
We have strong data to support the economic impact these dollars will have. Special exhibitions, the kind that these dollars would fund, have increased overall attendance by up to 25 percent and out of state visitors by up to 50 percent. Without these dollars, we would continue to operate and serve children in need, but major capital expansion and special exhibitions, the kind that can generate further economic growth, would likely be out of reach.
All children will benefit from this investment. The Discovery Center is committed to access for every child. More than one in ten Discovery Center admissions are free or donor subsidized, including more than 1,000 annual Museums for All admissions for families receiving TANF or WIC, and over 5,000 field trip visitors from schools with a high percentage of children receiving free or reduced cost lunches. Special programs serve children with incarcerated mothers, medically fragile children, children with an autism spectrum disorder and children in foster care. We have clearly demonstrated our ability to use our resources to foster a lifelong love of learning for all children.