Big plans in the works for planetarium at the Science Museum of Western Virginia

Big plans in the works for planetarium at the Science Museum of Western Virginia
The museum is excited to announce that those plans include renovations to both the sound and technology of the planetarium that will allow them to do things not many others can do.

ROANOKE, VA (WDBJ) - It has now been over two years since the Science Museum of Western Virginia closed the doors of their popular planetarium to the public.

While some educational tours have come through along with classes, many have been wondering what plans the museum has for the future of its exhibit.

The museum is excited to announce that those plans include renovations to both the sound and technology of the planetarium that will allow them to do things not many others can do.

A big part of their vision includes creating an immersive environment through light and sound. The technology used for the planetarium will incorporate the same technology used at Virginia Tech’s Cube.

The relationship the museum has with Virginia Tech has allowed them to work with the same company that designed The Cube—an active research lab inside a 4-story black box that uses experimental immersive technology. The museum has a unique opportunity to use this technology and sees it as a big part of their futuristic vision.

Rachel Hopkins, the Executive Director of the museum, says that while creating a planetarium of the future is important to their vision, she also wants to honor the classic features of the past that many came to love.

"An immersive environment is when we put technology in place that really turns on our senses. So the sound system is going to be pretty amazing...the visuals. So we can really take you anywhere in our universe including the stars and including a concert with lasers on a Friday night."

Instead of completely tearing down the familiar half-dome, they will lower it towards the ground and incorporate renovations around it. Once opened, the planetarium doors will remain open as an interactive exhibit that will utilize NASA footage and google earth.

There is no exact date set for when it will open, but the museum is busy fundraising and encourages those interested to help them bring this planetarium back to the community.