When the old central library came down in 2002, so did the Minnesota Planetarium. The library was only old in the sense of bad planning, not that it was an ancient building. Budget cuts in the early sixties doomed the building to a short life-span. But when the library came down and its contents were either boxed and stored or continued in circulation in the "old" Federal Reserve Building, there was no temporary home for the Planetarium. It was simply gone, vanished except in the memories of its loyal patrons. Even today, people will call the Planetarium office (if they can find the number 612-370-9116) and ask for the hours or the location of the new Planetarium. Better still those interested should go to the website - http://www.mplanetarium.org
In 2005, well after demolition, the Planetarium held focus groups with Minneapolis and suburban residents. The interest in whiz bang science was high. Young people (and those not so young) wanted to reach out and operate equipment that would put them in touch with the stars. New science museums, great video and film, and the ever-yearning curiosity about just what is out there and who we on earth are in relation to the rest of the universe. The new Planetarium intends to deliver on all those wishes. The new facility, sitting atop the new downtown Minneapolis library will bring science and wonder within easy reach.It will be the most modern of the regional planetariums. Reason enough to plan on buying tickets in 2013 when the facility is completed and operating.
Meanwhile the Planetarium is not exactly completely gone. The spiffy name of the whole works is the Minnesota Planetarium and Space Discovery Center. In small scale, the Planetarium's ExploraDome is hopping from here to there along the Minnesota landscape, keeping school children up to date and excited about space, the not so final frontier.
The ExploraDome is 25-feet in diameter, and comfortable inside for a class of squirmy elementary students. The more refined older students also fit nicely in the Dome. The curriculum meets Minnesota State Science Standards and is also a heck of a lot of fun. Adults who have experienced the Dome as it stopped at the downtown central library or the Hennepin County building have been star-struck. Even better, a group met at All Nations Church to see the constellations from the perspective of Dakota astronomy. What, it must be imagined, will the new Planetarium be like in all its wonder when it opens as the jewel atop the glass wonder in downtown Minneapolis?