The historic Stamford Museum & Nature Center, a multi-use environmental education, art and science campus in the outskirts of Stamford, CT has requested that the City of Stamford invest $4 million to support the development and construction of their proposed $10 million Phase II Planetarium & Observatory Center. The proposed 8,000-square-feet Astronomy and Physical Science Center will combine the SM&NC Observatory with a planetarium. The facility will have three levels that include a 100-seat Planetarium, a second-floor Science Lab, and a roof terrace public outdoor viewing deck beside the observatory’s new aluminum dome. It will also serve as a center for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and astronomy and math) education, supporting the Connecticut State standards and the new Generation Science Standards.
The request was submitted through the city’s Planning Board on October 26th in a Capital Project Request for years 2023-2029. This investment would go towards the revitalization and restoration of a key pillar of the SM&NC’s mission.
With the City’s $4 million commitment, the project will commence In June 2022. $500k is to be allocated towards design/development and the balance of $3,500k towards construction. The historic and very massive Gregory-Maksutov telescope is slated to be moved to the South-West U.S. and will be replaced with a modern suite of instruments. The Astronomical Lyceum of the Magdalena Astronomical Society in New Mexico will restore and remount the original telescope, making it available for SM&NC’s remote use in the new center.
The existing Observatory, which opened in 1964, has been closed and condemned since October 2018 due to serious deterioration of the walls. After the telescope is relocated, the observatory structure will be demolished, and the new observatory and planetarium will be built together in one building for the first time in the museum’s 85-year history. It is expected that the new astronomy center will become a premier destination for astronomy and science education on the East coast, rivalling Manhattan’s Rose Center for Earth & Space/Hayden Planetarium.