Morehead Planetarium and Science Center this week will announce plans for a $5.2 million building project that will turn the North Carolina icon into a modern-day, technology-advanced science hub, according to a press release.
Plans for the Chapel Hill destination call for a new main entrance and reconfigured lobby space; a new exhibit hall; an interactive "maker space;" and an updated science demonstration stage, among other updates. More details will be released on Thursday.
“Morehead will retain its majestic exterior, while inside, it will soon provide the kind of experiences visitors and students expect today,” said Todd Boyette, Morehead’s director in the press release. “The results will be transformative. We will be solidly positioned among America’s leading university-based science outreach centers. We are grateful to our generous partners who help Morehead “#TakeUpSpace. We still have a ways to go with fundraising, but with their help, we are confident we will reach our goal.”
Morehead's home, on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, opened in 1949. It once served as a training center for U.S. astronauts prepering for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, including the astronauts who walked on the Moon.
In recent decades, it's been a popular destination for school groups, families and other visitors, who come to see shows on its 68-foot planetarium dome and programs on its Science Stage. Nearly 160,000 people visit the planetarium each year, including 85,000 school children, according to Morehead's website.
The building, however, has not seen a major upgrade to its teaching and exhibit spaces since it opened, according to the press release.