Where is the Planetarium and how long has it been around?
The Planetarium is located in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. Opened in 1979, the facility has served as the only public planetarium in the State of Mississippi for over 40 years. Highlights of its history include production of the International Film and TV Festival award-winning half-hour documentary, “The Space Shuttle: An American Odyssey,” by Richard Knapp, director of the Davis Planetarium, and staff members Don Warren, cinematographer, and Lenard Jenkins, production coordinator. The film made Astronaut Ronald McNair (the namesake of our theatre) the world's first orbital cinetmatographer when he took a camera into space as the film's chief cameraman.
Why are you doing a big renovation? Why not just reopen the facility?
When we went through the process of closing the Planetarium in April 2018 due to leaks and replacing the roof, there was some interior water damage to the facility. While we had the option to do patch work and fix some things, we decided to give the Planetarium its first proper renovation in its over 40-year history. We researched the top facilities in the country and visited almost a dozen. Through that process, we realized that we had an opportunity to jump in front of everything that is currently out there and do something totally new and different – yet remarkably achievable. We were also hearing from so many people in the community who loved the Planetarium and wanted to see it re-open. It became our mission to make sure that when we did re-open we would have a facility that the entire state of Mississippi would be proud of and would visit over and over again. We are here to tell Mississippi’s story about space, science, and technology, but also to educate our kids in a manner that inspires them to lead the nation in space, science, and technology.
What is the fundraising goal for this initiative?
For our crowdfunding campaign, we are not focusing on a dollar amount goal. We are focused on providing accessible and affordable ways for everyone to be a part of the efforts to renovate and revive this Jackson icon. The more the merrier.
How much money is this project going to cost?
We are aiming to raise over $10 million. We are actively working with a variety of partners to meet this goal.
Where is my money going?
The Friends of the Planetarium is a fund established through the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The money raised here is distributed by the Foundation for the renovation and redevelopment of the Planetarium. These funds will be used for the design work and exhibition build-out in the facility. Lights, special effects, videos, touch-screens, artifacts, projectors, and cool seats are all elements that are included in this piece of the overall project. This is the part that will make the Planetarium one-of-a-kind and a top facility in the nation.
How can I give more to the efforts of the Friends of the Planetarium?
Wow! Thank you for asking such a wonderful question! We’d love for you to support our efforts in larger ways. Please contact us so that we can set up a meeting or phone call and discuss possible naming opportunities and the larger levels of giving. We appreciate your support, at whatever level.
BEFORE YOU CAN MAKE A DREAM COME TRUE, YOU MUST FIRST HAVE ONE.
NASA Astronaut and Physicist
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