One-of-a-kind digital dome to be installed at Danville Science C - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

One-of-a-kind digital dome to be installed at Danville Science Center

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The Danville Science Center is getting a one-of-a-kind addition.  Construction is underway on a brand new, state-of-the-art digital dome theater.  Thursday morning at 8am, a crane will lift the dome onto its base.

The unusual structure is 44 feet tall and will be able to sit 100 people.  Science Center Executive Director Jeff Liverman says all 360 degrees will be completely covered with high definition, digital screens that will put guests right in the middle of places like space, the ocean, forests, and all kinds of different environments.

The $3.4 million project is a collaboration between the Science Center, the City of Danville, the Danville Regional Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Liverman says they wanted to add something like this to enhance the learning experience for kids and families across the region and to make science more fun and interesting.

"For a region our size, there's nothing like it," said Liverman.  "You see facilities like this in much larger cities, so we're really privileged to have something like this."

Liverman and city leaders hope in addition to getting people excited about science, the dome will get people excited about visiting Danville.

Last year, about 31,000 people visited the Danville Science Center.  They estimate the dome will attract 40,000 in its first year -- then 32,000 - 40,000 each year after that.  Liverman says that translates to a $344,000 annual impact.

They expect most of those visitors to come from the Danville area and its surrounding communities.  Twenty-five percent, though, they believe will come from the entire Southwest Virginia region and North Carolina -- giving Danville greater exposure.

"We feel the location of the Science Center near the Dan River and downtown has been a catalyst for changing this whole region," said Liverman.  "All this traffic we see now on this road, that wasn't here ten years ago.  There's a real enthusiasm and excitement what we're calling the River District here in Danville."

After the dome is installed, crews will spend several months adding insulation and then ultimately the screens and projectors.  The dome is on track to open by late fall, early winter of this year.

Not wanting to waste a learning opportunity, the Science Center recently opened an exhibit all about construction that shows how a dome is built.

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