Buhl Planetarium--Statement Before Pittsburgh City Council

Statement Before the Glenn A. Walsh

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

Regarding Retaining Functionality of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041

Historic City Equipment in Buhl Planetarium Telephone: 412-561-7876

2001 November 13 E-Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >

Web Site: < http://www.planetarium.cc >

Good morning. My name is Glenn A. Walsh; I reside at 633 Royce Avenue in Mount Lebanon. This afternoon there will be a City Council Post-Agenda meeting regarding the proposed Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Center project. Since the public is not permitted to speak at this meeting, we will try to convey our message to you this morning. This will not be easy since each member of the public receives only three minutes to speak, and this afternoon's speakers will have no time limit. Further, the public will have no opportunity to question facts presented by this afternoon's speakers.

At a public hearing of the Allegheny Regional Asset District on October 22, Carnegie Science Center Planetarium Director John Radzilowicz stated that the equipment in the original Buhl Planetarium has little historic value and the 1939 Zeiss projector is not the world's oldest.

Mr. Radzilowicz was referring to a smaller, 1937 star projector in Springfield, Massachusetts, which actually cannot show all southern stars, and which does not show planets at all! The Springfield projector is not really a "planetarium." It is a stellarium, which can only show the movement of stars; it cannot display the much more complex movements of the planets.

Hence, Buhl's Zeiss projector IS the oldest operable, major planetarium projector in the world! And, it is the LAST operable planetarium projector from the dawn of the planetarium age. No other pre-World War II planetarium projector is usable, today.

It is true that the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment has not been used since 1994. Even though The Carnegie Science Center held the lease for the Buhl Planetarium building up until about three years ago, they performed very little maintenance on the equipment. Little wonder why, since they had expected to sell the equipment as unusable artifacts to a college in Texas in 1995!

With proper maintenance, the historic equipment can continue presenting Astronomy to the public, as it did up until 1994. The question is how to pay for this maintenance.

An attorney has agreed to assist in the legal formation of a non-profit corporation and the acquisition of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. The purpose of this non-profit corporation would be to raise funds to maintain the historic instruments and demonstrate the equipment to the public.

Once the Children's Museum has reopened the Buhl Planetarium building to the public, we would provide demonstrations of the historic equipment on a regular basis--perhaps weekly or monthly. Additionally, volunteers are available and willing to do the actual work of maintaining and operating the equipment. When the Zeiss projector is not being used, it will be lowered below floor level, allowing the Children's Museum to utilize the Theater of the Stars for other auditorium uses.

However, it would not make sense for us to begin the incorporation process, unless we have some assurance that the equipment will remain in the building where they can be used.

We, respectfully, ask that any lease granted to the Children's Museum include a clause that requires the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector and the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope to remain in their original installations, where they can be used. We also ask that this clause permit the new non-profit corporation to present educational programs to the public, using this historic Pittsburgh equipment.

Thank you.


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

On the Internet: < http://www.planetarium.cc >