Science museum looks forward to revamped home, says planetarium - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Science museum looks forward to revamped home, says planetarium in need of $600,000

The Science Museum of Western Virginia is in the process of moving back to its "reinvented" home at Center in the Square -- and its staff says there's a lot to look forward to.  Monday, they'll meet with the Roanoke City Council to discuss the progress they've made and the work they still have to do -- including a $600,000 makeover of the museum's planetarium.

The museum's Executive Director Jim Rollings says he and the museum's board wanted to make a bold statement with the renovation -- so they raised roughly $3.4 million, which they invested in a brand new exhibit hall.

That space will feature three major exhibits:

-Healthy Bodies, which promotes healthy lifestyles and choices, and lets visitors take a walk through the human digestive system.

-Healthy Earth, which celebrates the environment and gives visitors the chance to journey under the earth for a look at our planet's geological wonders

-How it Works, where visitors will learn about the science behind things like electric cars, recycling, and solar power.

The museum will also be home to a new butterfly habitat and an "Open Lab", where student groups and families can sign out and complete science projects right inside the building.

The museum and the rest of Center in the Square is slated to open on May 18.  But Rollings says one key component won't be ready by then -- the museum's planetarium.

Rollings says the exhibit hall was the top priority in this renovation because it's what the majority of their visitors would come to see and experience -- and therefore, it received nearly all the museum's resources.  That leaves the planetarium in need of work to the tune of $600,000.

Since it first opened in 1983, the planetarium has had just a few minor upgrades -- and by today's standards, is very much outdated.  Rollings says they would need to make everything digital, then replace dome screens, chairs, carpet, and some of the audio equipment.

During their meeting at 2:00 Monday afternoon, he plans to bring the City Council up to speed on the situation and then present a possible plan for how the museum can raise the money to fix it.

Rollings says once they feel confident they have the funding in place, it would take an additional four to six to complete renovations on the planetarium.



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