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Science Museum of Western Virginia prepares to unveil "The Eye"

The Science Museum of Western Virginia's is renovating the former Hopkins Planetarium into "The Eye".
Craig Wright
The Science Museum of Western Virginia's is renovating the former Hopkins Planetarium into "The Eye".

Dormant for over a decade, the centerpiece of the Science Museum of Western Virginia at Roanoke’s Center in the Square is on the verge of a rebirth. All Things Considered host Craig Wright has the story.

State-of-the-art when it opened, the technology used to operate the Hopkins Planetarium over the years became outdated, forcing the popular attraction to go dark more than twelve years ago. But now, a half-million-dollar renovation will resurrect the space which will be re-introduced as “The Eye”.

Chris Savage, Planetarium Director at the Science Museum, expresses his enthusiasm as the re-opening approaches, “This has really been a long time coming and to be able to finally see the finish line is super exciting. And we’re all super stoked!”

Some familiar elements of the auditorium remain. But new digital technology similar to that used at Virginia Tech’s “The Cube” will provide not just a show – but an immersive experience.

Savage elaborates on the possibilities, “You know, it’s interactive. So, if you’re giving a presentation and, for example, one of the student’s asks you about Europa, you can be like, okay, I wasn’t planning on talking about Europa, but I can fly to Europa and use the system to go and talk about it.”

In addition to star shows, the new system will also allow a wider variety of presentations.

Savage explains, “We could do an undersea show and explore the depths. So being able to have that flexibility is really helpful. And, really, the sky’s the limit!”

“The Eye” is tentatively slated to begin transporting visitors with its premiere sometime in February.

Craig Wright hosts All Things Considered on Radio IQ.