The State Museum will be adding space to its collections. Lots of it.
After almost a decade of planning and fundraising, the South Carolina State Museum yesterday announced that is is ready to undertake its $23 million expansion and renovation: a planetarium, an observatory,a 4-D theater, educators’ training space and a new front entrance/lobby.
Additional new technologies and remote access will allow the museum to deliver “virtual field trips” for science classrooms. A teacher can book time on the observatory telescope and track a stellar object on the computer via the internet, says museum Education Director Tom Falvey.
Since the Gibbes Planetarium closed in the late 1990’s, Columbia has not had a place for K-12 students to see the stars or have an astronomy field trip. When it is complete in 2013, the planetarium and observatory, along with some special exhibits, will be open at night.
A $2 million grant from NASA allowed them to outfit the planetarium. A mix of local and state money were matched by private and corporate donations for the rest of the project. The project was approved by the Budget and Control Board and vetted again by legislators after the matching funds were raised.
“When South Carolinians come to the State Museum, they will have a totally different experience,” says Falvey.
The Department of Revenue will relocate most of its operations permanently. The museum, the Confederate Relic Room, the Department of Revenue’s remaining offices will still conduct business as usual during contruction on the old textile mill that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
“This is the first time since we have been here that we have modified this building,” says State Museum Executive Director Willie Calloway. The changes and construction have to comply with Registry standards, he says.
“We might just find some things to add to our collection,” he laughs.