Web Address of this page: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/Buhlbriefhistory.html >
Web Address of cover page: < http://www.planetarium.cc >
In addition to the emphasis in Astronomy, The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science was one of the nation's first museums to provide exhibits and presentations on various Physical Sciences. Up until that time, major museums, specializing in the Physical Sciences, only existed in Philadelphia(Franklin Institute, including the Fels Planetarium) and Chicago(Museum of Science and Industry, separate from the Adler Planetarium); in Los Angeles, the recently completed Griffith Observatory and Planetarium also included a small amount of gallery space for exhibits in Astronomy and the Physical Sciences. Previously, Natural History Museums in several large cities; including New York: American Museum of Natural History(which included the newly constructed Hayden Planetarium), Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History(separate from the Museum of Science and Industry and Adler Planetarium), Washington: Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of Natural History, and Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Natural History; took the role of the Science Museum.
Buhl also provided some presentations and exhibitry in the Life Sciences. An epideoscope(antique overhead projector) was used for Buhl's "Micro Zoo" presentation, which showed microscopic life on a projection screen. "Transpara, The Talking Glass Lady," used a full-sized model of a woman to show the major organs and bones of the human body, in a short public presentation. "Wonder of Wonders," a sex-education program, was carefully presented by a registered nurse; this program was primarily given to school groups, where the students had received parental permission(special parent presentations, prior to a school group's visit to Buhl, were always offered). Starting in May of 1983, chicks (and sometimes also ducklings) were hatched each weekend in the "BioCorner" Embryology Exhibit, using a specially redesigned hatchery which showed the entire hatching process; patrons, particularly children, could pet, feed, and hold the young chicks and ducklings, under staff supervision.
Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science was constructed by
Buhl Foundation(the nation's thirteenth largest foundation in 1939).
Buhl Foundation was founded, using a bequest of more than $11
million(1927 dollars) from the estate of
Henry Buhl, Jr.(1848-1927), a wealthy Allegheny City merchant. Henry Buhl's business, the Boggs and Buhl Department Store(1869-1958), which catered to the carriage trade(particularly customers from Allegheny City's "Millionares Row" on Ridge Avenue, a few blocks west of the department store), was located one block south of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, on Federal Street--now the location of the 1960s urban renewal project, Allegheny Center. The will of Herny Buhl provided the funds for the Buhl Foundation, in the memory of his late wife Louise, for charitable works in the Pittsburgh area, with some emphasis on the city's North Side.
The Buhl Foundation completely funded the construction and furnishing of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building at a cost of $1,070,000(1939 dollars); the Buhl Foundation then presented the building along with all equipment and furnishings as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh. This included the Zeiss Model II Planetarium Projector, imported from the Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany, at a cost of $135,000(1938 dollars). "The People's Observatory," when completed and opened to the public on November 19, 1941, included a ten-inch, Siderostat-type, refractor telescope. Although designed specifically for use by the public, the telescope was manufactured to professional observatory specifications by the Gaertner Scientific Company of Chicago, at a cost of $30,000(1941 dollars).
Attendance in Buhl Planetarium's first year of operation(1939-1940) reached 187,153. Over the years, attendence waxed and waned. Attendance grew with the launch of the first satellite, Russia's Sputnik, and the beginning of the manned space program. Interest in science and astronomy boomed when Americans thought that the Soviet Union was ahead of the United States in science and technology; at this time, Buhl began the "Junior Space Academy" classes, which eventually evolved into Buhl's Science Academy. Attendance, along with America's interest in scientific research, began to decline once America "won" the space race and landed the first men on the Moon: 1969 July 20. However, with a slight change of name[The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science was shortened to simply Buhl Science Center] and new emphasis on several different sciences, Buhl's attendance reached 250,000 by the mid-1980s.
The Amateur Astronomers' Association of Pittsburgh, formed in 1929, was active in convincing the Buhl Foundation to build a planetarium in Pittsburgh; Association co-founder Leo J. Scanlon (who passed-away on November 27, 1999, at age 96) had seen Chicago's Adler Planetarium, the nation's first, in 1930. The Buhl Foundation presented the one million-dollar facility to the City of Pittsburgh in 1939, but continued operating the building until February 3, 1982. On that date, the Buhl Foundation set up an independent Board of Directors for the, then, Buhl Science Center, and provided the Science Center with a small endowment. On January 1, 1987, the Buhl Science Center merged with The Carnegie Institute, in anticipation of either expansion of the current Science Center building or construction of an entirely new Science Center building.
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science closed as a public museum on August 31, 1991, prior to the October 5, 1991 opening of The Carnegie Science Center, which includes the new Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory; The Carnegie Science Center is located one mile southwest of Buhl, on the North Shore of the Ohio River. The Buhl Planetarium building continued to be used for Science Center Science and Computer classes until February of 1994. The City of Pittsburgh, which legally owns the property, building, planetarium projector, and telescope, is currently seeking a new tenant to restore and reuse this historic facility.
History of the Planetarium:
Chartrand, Mark R. "Fifty Year Anniversary of a Two Thousand Year Dream
[The History of the Planetarium]."
Planetarian 1973 September.
History of the Science Center:
Friedman, Alan J. "The evolution of the science museum."
Physics Today 2010 October: 45.
Oldest Planetarium ?
Zeiss Planetarium Projectors:
Carl Zeiss Company: German *** English *** History
Brief Summary of Pre-World War II Zeiss Planetarium Projectors
Zeiss IV Planetarium Projectors in Operation in 1980
(First new Zeiss projectors built after World War II)
Planetarium Projector & Space Museum , Big Bear Lake, California
English-language version of German site on world planetaria.
Great Paris Exhibition Telescope of 1900
Largest Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope that every existed.
Orrery: Classic Mechanical Planetarium
Organizations of Planetarium and Science Museum Professionals
International Planetarium Society (IPS)
Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA)
Oldest planetarium organization in North America.
Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society (MAPS)
Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
American Association of Museums (AAM)
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
Planetaria and Science Museums/Science Centers
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh:
Planetarium of The Children's Museum and Science Center at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Children's Science Explorium at Sugar Sand Park, Boca Raton, Florida
Clark Planetarium (originally Hansen Planetarium), Salt Lake City
Albert Einstein Planetarium, Washington:
Albert Einstein Planetarium
Brief History of the National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
Fels Planetarium, Philadelphia:
History and Mission of The Franklin Institute Science Museum
Gengras Planetarium, West Hartford, Connecticut:
Part of The Children's Museum, formerly the Science Center of Connecticut
Regarding Institution Name Change: News Release *** News Article
Griffith Observatory and Planetarium, Los Angeles:
A History of Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory General Information
Hayden Planetarium, New York City:
(Second Hayden Planetarium building, part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space)
Hayden Planetarium Academic Site
Zeiss Mark IX: Current Planetarium Projector
Rose Center for Earth and Space
American Museum of Natural History
Charles Hayden Planetarium, Boston:
(Funded by the Charles Hayden Foundation, which also provided the original Hayden Planetarium in New York City}
Charles Hayden Planetarium
Short History of Boston Museum of Science
Boston Museum of Science
When Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center opened in 1991, these murals were given back to the artist, who donated them to his hometown planetarium, the Hoover-Price Planetarium in Canton, Ohio; these murals are now displayed in the Planetarium's Jane Williams Mahoney Mezzanine. The seven murals, painted by Benjamin Byrer, are titled:
Aurora Borealis: The Northern Lights
* Earth and Comet - from the Moon (repainted in 1970 June): Photo 1 (5) *** Photo 2
* Billions of Suns - Our Galaxy and Its Neighbors (5)
* Eclipse of the Moon
* Eclipse of the Sun: Photo 1 (5) *** Photo 2
* The Great Nebula in Orion (5)
* The Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules
Each year, Mr. Byrer also displayed his "Barnwood Paintings" in Buhl Planetarium's Mezzanine Gallery, at the entrance to the annual exhibition of the Miniature Railroad and Village in the Bowdish Gallery from November through February.
The Korkosz Projector (1937 Stellarium)
of the Springfield (Massachusetts) Science Museum:
Dimon R. McFerson Planetarium of the Center of Science and Industry (COSI), Columbus, Ohio:
Opened in new Center of Science and Industry building, on west bank of the Scioto River, in 1999.
Evans, Walker. "COSI Planetarium to Reopen in November."
ColumbusUnderground.com 2014 Sept. 22.
The COSI Planetarium will reopen 2014 Nov. 22 with a Digistar 5 digital Fulldome system, 10 years after it closed and in the 50th anniversary year of COSI. “The digital system means the new COSI Planetarium can offer virtually endless educational opportunities,” said COSI President & CEO David Chesebrough. Once completed, the new COSI Planetarium will feature a 60 foot dome with a seating capacity of 200, which will make it one of the largest in Ohio. An ongoing crowdfunding campaign has raised approximately $700,000 of the $1 million goal necessary to modernize and reopen the exhibit.
Mothballed indefinitely, immediately after Labor Day, 2004 !
Dimon R. McFerson Planetarium
In 2002, McFerson Planetarium equals Buhl Planetarium world reecord of back-to-back planetarium show perfomances.
Center of Science and Industry
McLaughlin Planetarium, Toronto - 1968 to 1995:
Facebook Page Video: History of Toronto's McLaughlin Planetarium - 2019
Also talks about possible demolition of planetarium and construction of new University of Toronto building.
Children's Museum Replaces Planetarium - 1998
Children's Museum Closes in 2002 - Lease Not Renewed
Royal Ontario Museum
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
Cover Web Page
Morrison Planetarium, San Francisco - Oldest American-built planetarium:
Visitors' Center at the NASA John Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Cleveland:
Visitors' Center *** Tips Visiting NASA
John Glenn Resarch Center at Lewis Field *** NASA
Also see Planetarium and Observatory at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Osaka, Japan Planetarium:
Osaka Science Museum
Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, Baton Rouge:
Irene W. Pennington Planetarium
Solar System Gallery
Louisiana Art and Science Museum
* Photographs (Photos credit: Daniel Spano):
** Zeiss Projector (static gallery exhibit)
** Explanatory plaque for Zeiss Projector
** New Irene W. Pennington Planetarium in Downtown Baton Rouge
Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, Rome, Italy - The historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, which was in use in Rome from 1928 to 1980, will soon be reassembled for display in front of the new Rome Planetarium, according to an electronic mail message received by the author, from Stephen Wheeler, a translator working for the Rome Planetarium. More information.
Rosicrucian Planetarium, San Jose, California
Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels:
Planetarium utilizing oldest operating Zeiss II Projector -- Projector used in Jena, Germany beginning in 1926. After World War II, it was rebuilt with some refinements added.
Planetarium Cover Page
Sao Paulo, Brazil Planetarium
The Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium and Ralph Mueller Observatory
in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History:
Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium
Historic Hanna Star Dome - Ohio's first planetarium (1936)
Ralph Mueller Observatory, which includes the historic 10.5-inch Warner & Swasey telescope, constructed originally for the Western Reserve University (now Case-Western Reserve University) in 1899 and which includes optics from Pittsburgh's J.A. Brashear Company.
Cleveland Museum of Natural History: Link 1 *** Link 2
Also see Visitors' Center at the NASA John Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Cleveland
State Museum of Pennsylvania Planetarium, Harrisburg:
The State Museum of Pennsylvania
SpaceQuest Planetarium, Indianapolis: