For the first time in more than a decade, visitation at the New Mexico Museum of Space History has exceeded 100,000. For Fiscal Year 2017, which started on July 1, 2016 and ended June 30, 2017, the museum counted 102,089 visitors through the doors.
“It’s very exciting for us to have five straight years of increasing visitation and to finally top the hundred thousand mark, for the first time in ten years,” said Museum Executive Director Christopher Orwoll. “We are up 11.2% over last year, and 37.8% over our lowest attendance in FY2012.” The museum’s highest attendance was over 200,000 guests in FY1990, but began dropping steadily after that until it reached a low of just over 74,000 in FY2012.
“I believe this constant upswing in visitors is due to a number of factors such as the efforts of the Tourism Department to promote our state, but more directly for us the support of the City of Alamogordo, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and our state legislators who helped provide us with the funding to upgrade our facility and exhibits,” said Orwoll.
Over the past five years, significant work has been done at the museum from installing carpet to replacement of the theater’s thirty year old projection system. Many infrastructure improvements have taken place including HVAC replacement, landscaping, wireless internet for visitors and security cameras. In addition, new exhibits and interactives have been installed and thousands of artifacts have been added to the museum’s collection.
“There are many more improvements that we’ll be making over the next year,” said Orwoll, “and one of the major upgrades will be replacement of the theater’s aging dome. We’ll also be installing a brand new playground area near our rocket park. All of these improvements, whether visitors can see them like the new playground or not see them like the HVAC upgrades, are aimed at improving our visitor experience and encouraging people to come back and see what else we’ve done.”
The museum is a significant tourism draw for the community, as more than 85% of its visitors come from outside of New Mexico. The majority of visitors come from West Texas and surrounding states. The museum also plays host to thousands of school students each year who visit on field trips and take advantage of the facility’s educational programs.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs.