Friends of the Zeiss

P.O. Box 1041

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

Telephone: 412-561-7876

Electronic Mail: < >

Internet Web Site: < >


2008 August 12


Mr. Jim Motznik, Chairman

Committee on General and Government Services

City Council, City of Pittsburgh

510 City-County Building

414 Grant Street

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-2409


Dear Mr. Motznik:


This letter regards several pieces of City of Pittsburgh property, currently under the care of The Carnegie Science Center: historic artifacts originally from The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Last week, The Carnegie Science Center announced specific dates for the closing of the SportsWorks exhibit and the Miller Printing Warehouse Building, where many of these City of Pittsburgh artifacts are being stored. The SportsWorks exhibit is scheduled to close August 24; Labor Day is the last day of display for "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition," which is also on display in the Miller building.


The closing of the building is necessitated by the building’s demolition, which will allow construction of a Light Rail Transit station, part of the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s expansion of the subway system to the North Side. My understanding is that the building demolition could come as early as October.


It had been expected that several of the historic artifacts, particularly the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, and large Mercator’s Projection Map of the World, would be on display or in use at The Carnegie Science Center by this time. However, for reasons that have never been made clear to me, these and other artifacts remain in storage in the Science Center’s warehouse.


I have written to Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh President Dr. David M. Hillenbrand, twice (2007 September 24 and 2008 April 10), regarding the future storage and use of the artifacts. I received only one reply from Dr. Hillenbrand, on 2007 October 8, which was vague (copy of reply attached).


In his reply, he stated, “Before the Miller Building is razed, we will move these items, along with many other assets residing in the Miller Building, to another facility where they will be stored until such time as we determine their ultimate disposition.” “Delay and changes in our expansion project” were cited as reasons the artifacts are not on display in the Science Center.


As Chairman of the Committee on General and Government Services, which is responsible for City property, I think it would be wise for your office to seek written confirmation of the new storage arrangements of these historic artifacts, from The Carnegie Science Center.


Once you receive this information, I would appreciate being informed of the new storage arrangements. Four years ago, when rain run-off from Hurricane Ivan storm waters threatened objects in the Science Center warehouse, Bill Peduto, former chairman of your committee, was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the letter from the Science Center, which indicated that the historic artifacts were not affected by the storm waters.



Mr. Jim Motznik                                2008 August 12                                 Page 2 of 2




There are actually contracts (memoranda of understanding) between the City of Pittsburgh and The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh regarding the storage and display/use of the three largest artifacts: Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, and large Mercator’s Projection Map of the World. However, The Carnegie Science Center also moved several smaller City-owned Buhl Planetarium artifacts to this warehouse, in addition to a few of the smaller Buhl Planetarium artifacts that are on display in The Carnegie Science Center.


Although there are no written contracts regarding these smaller artifacts, they became City property on the day of dedication, 1939 October 24, when all contents of the Buhl Planetarium building were conveyed to the City by the Buhl Foundation. Attached is an inventory I have prepared, of the City-owned Buhl Planetarium artifacts that I understand were moved to The Carnegie Science Center from Buhl Planetarium.


Again, I wish to thank you for your strong support with regards to the designation of the original Buhl Planetarium as a City Historic Landmark. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding the historic artifacts which concerns Friends of the Zeiss.


Sincerely yours,




Glenn A. Walsh

Project Director




Attachments 2


Copy:          Members of City Council, City of Pittsburgh

                    Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, City of Pittsburgh