After three years of planning, Raleigh's Exploris museum, located at 201 E. Hargett St., is opening its new IMAX theater Friday. The Exploris facility is the state's second such theater and adds to the more than 225 in the world.
Of the 180 IMAX films available, Exploris' facility will open with "Mysteries of Egypt" and "The Greatest Places." The former picture is a 45-minute look at the history of Egypt, and the National Geographic Society's first IMAX feature; the latter highlights and explores seven of the world's most exotic regions.
"(These films) are two really great examples of IMAX films that take you there," said IMAX Vice President Rob Brooks.
Exploris President Anne Bryan echoed Brooks' statements. "This gives us a powerful new lens on the world," she said.
Exploris began the process of bringing IMAX to Raleigh a year before its completion. In 1998, the Massachusetts-based firm White Oak Associates conducted a study to determine whether the Triangle was a viable market for an IMAX theater, Brooks said. The firm studied factors like local school population, growth and the area's average education level.
The study found that Wake County was one of the best areas for a theater, said White Oak Vice President Jeanie Stahl.
Upon approval, the theater's construction lasted 13 months, Brooks said. The facility features seats placed so that the 271-member audience see the screen equally. The sound system comprises 44 speakers producing 12,000 watts -- the equivalent of 1,500 car stereos at full volume.The screen itself is the size of a seven-story building.
To coincide with the theater's opening, Exploris is hosting three days of festivities and exhibits. Performances will include dancing and music from India, Sierra Leone, Egypt and Ireland, as well as interactive theater performances.
Advance IMAX tickets for the shows are on sale now. Tickets are available at the Exploris box office. Call (919) 834-4040 or visit http://www.exploris.org for more information.