While the Sternberg Museum of Natural History has existed for many decades, the focus of the museum has changed over the years. While the museum was under the direction of George F. Sternberg, the paleontology collection grew. Under botanists Elam Bartholomew and Dr. Joe Thomasson, mammalogist and herpetologist Dr. Eugene Fleharty, ornithology and entomologist Dr. Charles Ely, and Dr. Jerry R. Choate, the zoological research collections grew.

Dr. Choate combined the Elam Bartholomew Herbarium, the Sternberg Memorial Museum, and the Museum of the High Plains together to form a coalition of museums at Fort Hays State University. In 1987, Dr. Choate petitioned the University President for a new museum building. In 1991, the “dome” became available.

The “dome”  contained an olympic-sized swimming pool, 4 racquetball courts, 2 tennis courts, a weightlifting area, an aerobics room, a 24-lane bowling alley, and more. This building became abandoned in the late ’80’s Oil Glut. The University purchased the building for a winning bid of $10. 

The building – affectionately called the “Dome on the Range” – was remodeled into the new museum. All three museums included in the coalition  were combined into a single unit called the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. The building opened March 13, 1999.

Since the opening of the new building, the zoological, botanical, and paleontological collections have continued to grow through the efforts of our staff.


Museum Acronyms Through Time

  • 1962-1998  FHKSC  Fort Hays Kansas State College – Museum of the High Plains
  • 1998-2010  MHP – Museum of the High Plains
  • 2010-present  FHSM – Fort Hays State University, Sternberg Museum of Natural History