Science museum

Science Museum’s Dome Theater to reopen in September

After being closed for more than a year, the Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater will reopen to the public at the Mid-America Science Museum on September 11 with an upgraded projector system.

The theater opened in 2015 when the museum was renovated. Casey Wylie, director of education at the museum, said the upgrade was possible thanks to a grant from the theater’s sponsor.

“This dome was very graciously sponsored by the Oaklawn Foundation, for which we are very, very grateful, and we are delighted that they were able to sponsor an upgrade to our system,” said Wylie.

The Oaklawn Foundation awarded the museum a grant of $ 389,496 “to install the state-of-the-art Digistar 7 computer system in the Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater located in the museum,” a press release read.

“We switched to Digistar 7, it’s the latest model, we’re one of the first to have Digistar 7, which is great,” said Wylie.

Wylie said the theater was a success for the museum, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shut it down.

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“Unfortunately, we didn’t open it during the whole COVID, just because it was such a confined space, and then we couldn’t reopen it when we reopened everything else because the system we had, this company ended up going bankrupt, the Sky-Scan company, so we put everything on hold. We didn’t want to stress too much on our late lights and spotlights, we just waited, and luckily the Oaklawn Foundation came and went. saved the day, ”she said.

“So this new version will be an upgrade for several reasons. Firstly, it will be in a higher resolution. I mean just the fact that we have moved from 2015 technology to 2021 technology, as you have seen. with each type of technology, it really is a huge leap forward, ”said Wylie.

“It will be much clearer, which will make the surround viewing experience much more realistic,” she said.

“Our new projectors (…) are digital laser based instead of lamp, like a traditional projector, which will significantly reduce costs because we no longer have to change lamps all the time now”, she declared. .

They will work with Evans & Sutherland on the project that will make it easier for the theater to show a diverse selection of programs, said Wylie.

“They send us a list of programs. I think we have seven titles that we can choose from and that we’re going to change quite regularly,” she said.

“While it will still be mostly space since we don’t have a lot of planetariums in Arkansas, it’s something we’re very happy to be able to provide, but the Evans & Sutherland Digistar system also provides access to almost every science imaginable, ”said Wylie.

“We can basically turn it into a giant Google Earth in even more detail,” she said.

“What’s great is that once the lights go out and the screen turns on, you feel like you’re moving. It’s really a 3D experience. The chairs don’t move. really, but when the earth spins you feel like you are spinning. With the new shows we will be able to zoom out, zoom in. It’s like the best IMAX you’ve ever been in, just all around you She said.

“It’s kind of like Circle-Vision at Disneyworld, only you can sit down, and there’s a cap too, which is really great fun,” Wylie said.

In addition to the new equipment, Wylie said, “We also have the opportunity, thanks to the Oaklawn Foundation, that two of our educators will participate in the international Digistar Users Group conference, which will be held this year in Salt Lake City. , to receive four days of training in astronomy.

“It really allows us to do a lot with very, very little. We’re one of the smaller institutions that has (a domed theater). Not just small in size but in small numbers. It’s very unusual for a museum of our size and ability to have something like that. It’s very unique and a fantastic opportunity, ”she said.


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