Final Work Underway for Planetarium Re-Opening

by ARLnow.com September 11, 2012 at 11:00 am 3,420 23 Comments

(Updated at 2:00 p.m) Following a year of renovations, the David M. Brown Planetarium (1426 N. Quincy Street) is preparing to unveil its upgrades during a grand re-opening celebration weekend.

Events will take place throughout the weekend of September 28-30, beginning with a ribbon cutting on Friday (September 28) at 10:00 a.m. A “Family Day” begins at 12:30 p.m. that Saturday. Although people of all ages are welcome to attend, there will be many things aimed at children ages 3-12, including hands-on activities, art and games. Festivities will end with the Sunday Science Program at 1:00 p.m. on September 30, featuring a short talk and a activities like making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Tours of the facility will be available both days.

Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium, the non-profit group founded more than two years ago to launch the fundraising campaign that saved the facility, is co-hosting the events with Arlington Public Schools.

In 2010, in response to an outcry against a plan to shutter the planetarium and use it for classroom space, APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy proposed the challenge of a private group coming up with $402,800 for necessary renovations. That goal was achieved by the Friends just before the deadline last summer, thanks to a flood of last minute donations.

“When the school administration realized that there was tremendous support for the planetarium, they pitched in too,” said Dr. Alice Monet with Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium. “It’s a real joint effort.”

The facility upgrades include a new Spitz SciDome HD projector, a new interior dome, new seats, new floors and new restrooms. Some donators also purchased dedicated nameplates that have been affixed to certain seats.

Construction is still ongoing, but we’re told crews are “working like mad” to ready the facility for the grand re-opening.

  • Orion


    • Quoth the Raven

      Out of this world!

    • SomeGuy

      I’m over the moon about this.

    • Virgo

      I’m looking forward to seeing heavenly bodies at the newly renovated planetarium.

      • SomeGuy

        The lust you’ll find with the heavenly bodies I think you’re hoping to see is not a lust for learning. Try Wilson Boulevard around 1:30 AM on a weekend night for a real education.

  • Regis

    So they had plans to use if for classroom space when they wanted to shut it down? Does that mean level it to the ground and park more trailers on the spot?

    • Trolly Troll

      Nice troll effort…*yawn*

      • Regis

        No really, have you even been inside? How could you use that building as classroom space?

  • Id

    Mr. Spock, Warp 9.

  • Anyone

    Anybody been here before? Is it worth taking a 6 year old? Just wondering how much they can see. Can’t see anything with our own crappy telescope.

    • Orion

      It’s not an observatory, it’s a planetarium. There’s a projector inside that projects the stars, planets, moon, and other celestial wonders onto the dome-shaped ceiling. It’s one way to show city-slickers the stars, since they will never have a chance to see them for real in our light-pollution-infested environment.

  • Spock

    So is this open to the public or is it just for school use for the students?

    • Regis


  • JnA

    The politicians who did not support the renovation should not be welcome at the ribbon cutting. Please do not attend.

    My family contributed but if it were up to local pols the planetarium would have been another tear-down. Thanks to the parents who are pro-education, not more recreation, for saving the planetarium.

  • nom de guerre

    Speaking of Star Trek cuisine, Sam’s Food Truck will be present at the planetarium re-opening and will be serving a jumbo Romulan mollusk, Bregit lung with Grapok sauce, Klingon Bloodwine and Andorian Ale. Only while supplies last.

    • jackson

      I drove by Sam’s today, and it’s being gutted now. No more lunches, ever.

      • nom de guerre

        When Sam’s Corner looks like it’s open, it’s actually closed. And when it looks like it is closed, it is open. You must not be a member of the VIP club so I guess you didn’t get the memo about the grand reopening of the new and VIBRANT concept-Arlington’s best kept secret.

    • YTK

      What about Sauteed Spock Ears?

  • YTK

    Well, I guess that means Arlington will have to look elsewhere for their Trolley Barn.

  • Mary-Austin

    I have a lot of good memories as a kid in the planetarium. I’m glad others will be able to enjoy it in the future.

  • emanon

    I honestly don’t know why a K-12 public school system needs to own a planetarium. Does APS have any plans to offset the operating costs with some kind of revenue (rental to other school systems, etc?).

    • JnA

      You can bet your $6 latte that if the former Reeves farm were slated to be a soccer complex rather than an environmental education center it would have been funded years ago.

      • emanon

        You are probably right about the bet. But that’s not really my point – I’m not more for the soccer field than I am the planetarium. I guess my point is that we have so many resources around here that are free, easy to get to, etc. It just seems to me that the planetarium several times a year loses its appeal. My own kids all told me that after about 2nd grade, the kids zoned out while there because they’d seen it all – A LOT. But anyway, some folks saw value and worked really hard to save it. Great. Everyone has their own interests and priorities, and I actually applaud their hard work and passion – most of the time people are all talk and no action, and this group really stepped up and made something happen. But my real question then becomes, if the school was yelling “uncle” and saying they didn’t have the money to fix it and operate it, well someone else fixed it, but the school now needs to spend $XXX operating it. I just wonder if they didn’t try to figure out some clever alternatives, rather than just sticking the dollars back in as operating expenses only. As a county, whether on the school side or the county gov’t side, we LOVE to do that – we build stuff and then wonder where the money is for maintenance and ops.


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