Anchorage Museum breaks ground on Thomas Planetarium
June 10, 2008
The Anchorage Museum broke ground June 6 on a new $1.98 million planetarium, part of the museum’s expansion project slated for completion in spring 2010.
The 530 square-foot planetarium will showcase presentations that explore the night sky, astronomy and space and will be used for a wide variety of education programs and films featuring breathtaking images and immersing audiences in surround sound. Programming will include interactive science demonstrations, innovative laser light shows combining laser images choreographed to music, educational and entertaining small format films and informative art, history and science programs for multi-generational audiences.
“Given recent space discoveries, it is now even more important for young people to have the chance to learn about astronomy and space,” said Lowell Thomas. Thomas and his wife, Tay, were major capital campaign contributors for whom the planetarium is named.
The planetarium will house a 180-degree, spherical perforated aluminum projection dome with a diameter of 24 feet. It will feature a state-of-the-art Digistar 3 projector manufactured by Evans and Sutherland Corporation, the world’s first computer graphics company. Digistar 3 uses powerful graphics hardware and software to generate immersive images on the interior surface of a dome, integrating all-dome video, real-time 3D computer graphics and a complete digital astronomy package.
The facility will seat 48 people and will be accessible to people with disabilities. It will be open during museum hours with occasional evening programming.
“We are very excited about having the Thomas Planetarium in which to host science education programs,” said Museum Director James Pepper Henry, “We are extremely grateful to Lowell and Tay for their sense of community responsibility and love of the environment and of Alaska, which has made this possible.”
Attending the small groundbreaking ceremony in addition to the Thomases were Pepper Henry; Gloria O’Neill, Anchorage Museum Association board vice chair; Daphne Brown of Kumin Associates, architect-of-record; Stephen Jelinek of Alcan General Inc. and other museum supporters.
For more information, call 343-6151.