Statement Before the

Statement Before the Glenn A. Walsh

Council of the City of Pittsburgh P.O. Box 1041

Regarding Recent City Inventory Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041

Of Buhl Planetarium Assets Telephone: 412-561-7876

2002 February 19 E-Mail: < >

Web Site: < >

Good morning. My name is Glenn A. Walsh. I reside at 633 Royce Avenue in Mount Lebanon.

On Wednesday, City Council President Gene Ricciardi provided me with a copy of the bound volume, "Buhl Planetarium Assets," that apparently was compiled by the Department of General Services on January 23. The inventory of building assets is quite good, supplemented by great photographs!

I am impressed by the detail included in this inventory, including all of the seating of both theaters, and even miscellaneous parts and equipment! Respectfully, I do have some additions to make to this inventory.

Of course, the most important asset in the Theater of the Stars is the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, now the oldest operable, major planetarium projector in the world! I am glad to see that, in addition to the projector, the Control Console was also included in the inventory.

Three other significant artifacts, in the Theater of the Stars, should also be inventoried. The Zeiss projector sits on a rather unique "worm-gear" elevator manufactured by our hometown Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Often, engineers visiting Buhl would ask to be taken to the projector pit to view this unique elevator. And, Buhl’s Zeiss projector was the first projector in the world to be placed on an elevator, to allow greater flexibility in the use of the Theater!

Along the north wall of the Theater of the Stars is the world’s first theatrical stage in a planetarium! The City inventory does mention the two sets of stage drapes, but not the stage itself. Via an electric motor, this stage can actually expand into the Theater, on its own two tracks. The stage was used several times a year for different programs including student presentations during the annual Foreign Language Festival, and "St. Luke" telling the Christmas Story during the annual planetarium show, The Star of Bethlehem.

Last, and certainly not least, the inventory should include the 65-foot diameter inner dome of the Theater of the Stars. As you may know, the dome seen from outside is not the dome used for projection of the stars. The outer dome is used to protect the Theater from the weather. A stainless steel inner dome, perforated with thousands of holes for ventilation and proper acoustics, is suspended below the outer dome for actual viewing of the planetarium sky.

This dome is just as important as the planetarium projector—without a usable dome, the projector is useless. I am concerned that the Children’s Museum’s rehabilitation proposal may include the removal of the dome, or the dome may be significantly altered. In either case, the Zeiss projector would then be rendered useless.

As a ready-made auditorium and theater, the Children’s Museum could continue using the Theater of the Stars for theatrical uses. The Zeiss projector could be kept below floor level, when not in use.

Tomorrow, I will comment on assets, in other parts of the Buhl Planetarium building, which should be included in the City inventory.

Thank you.


History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh

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