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Morehead Planetarium plans over $6 million renovation

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is beginning an over $6 million renovation of their building. 

The project will include a rerouting of their main entrance, relocation and expansion of exhibit spaces and the creation of a public Makerspace. Director of the planetarium Todd Boyette said he believes this project is long overdue.

“The thing I’m most excited about is that we’re doing this," Boyette said. "This is a real thing. It’s happening."

The building has not been remodeled since its creation and was built to be one of the finest facilities of its kind. Boyette said he thinks the renovations will better tell the story of the planetarium and better match the direction of the University.

“We need to be relevant," he said. "We need to be considered as cutting edge, as world leaders, just like the campus of the University we are located in." 

Most of the money for this project is coming from private funding and $1 million will be paid for by the University. The planetarium is still in the process of raising money. Part of that effort will be a launch party taking place at the planetarium this Thursday.

Spokesperson for the planetarium Molly Molpus helped plan the launch party. She said the event will include space-themed appetizers, live science experiments, champagne and a virtual reality view of the building's plans. While the event does involve an element of fundraising, Molpus said the event is primarily to celebrate a long-awaited upgrade to the planetarium.

Cee Cee Huffman, a first-year and navigator at the planetarium, said the planetarium is an important part of the community and is excited for the refurbishment of the building.

“I’m from here, so I went to the planetarium in third grade just like everyone does, and it still looks the same as it did when I went here in third grade,” Huffman said.

She said the planetarium is an important connection the University has to the rest of the Chapel Hill. Huffman said she thinks the University is lucky to have the planetarium on campus.

The project is expected to be completed in two years and start within the next 14 months. The planetarium will be open during this time, but may extend their annual maintenance closure by a few weeks.

Boyette said these renovations will improve the visits of the almost 160,000 people that the planetarium greets every year.

“We want that experience at Morehead to be a high quality experience” Boyette said.

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