Suffolk’s Vanderbilt Museum will reopen its planetarium March 15 after 20 months of construction on a state-of-the-art $4 million renovation.
“We’ve had a preview and it’s jaw-dropping stuff,” Ron Beattie, Vanderbilt board chairman, told county lawmakers Wednesday.
“We’re going to have a world-class planetarium — it’s been a long time coming,” added acting museum executive director Lance Reinheimer.
The planetarium will feature new shows produced by planetariums as far away as Great Britain and China, as well as high-definition video from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and other satellites. Three new shows for different age groups will debut with the opening. Shows will be scheduled on weekend afternoons and evenings — and weekday shows for school groups are expected to draw 60,000 visitors a year. Hours will be expanded during the summer.
Changes to the planetarium include a new $3 million Konica Minolta GeminiStar III projection system and a totally refurbished 150-capacity seating area, featuring wider seats and broader aisles for disabled people.
Backers hope the reopening will revive the 43-acre Centerport museum, which suffered severe losses in its endowment during the Wall Street meltdown but has made extensive efforts to attract new revenue.
Ticket and program information can be obtained on the museum website vanderbiltmuseum.org.