Friends of the Zeiss
P.O. Box 1041
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
Electronic Mail: < email@example.com >
Internet Web Site: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >
2003 February 10
The Honorable Governor Edward G. Rendell
225 Main Capitol Building
Re: Application for $8 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant for the
Pittsburgh Children’s Museum
Dear Mr. Governor:
Last month, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh submitted three applications to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants, on behalf of the John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center ($9 million request for museum expansion), The Carnegie Museum of Natural History ($15 million request for museum expansion), and the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum ($8 million request for museum expansion).
letter refers only to the $8 million funding request of the Pittsburgh
Children’s Museum. This money would be used to expand the Children’s Museum’s
programming space into the historic Buhl Planetarium and
We do not object to this funding request, of the
Children’s Museum, per se. Nor do we
disagree with the use of the Buhl Planetarium building by the Children’s
Museum; indeed, this could be a very appropriate use for this historic
building. However, we do, respectfully, ask that the
1) Buhl Planetarium's Theater of the Stars and Zeiss Pit cannot be altered in any which would prevent the return and use, at some future date, of the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector. This would include the retention of the historic Westinghouse "Worm-Gear" Elevator and the Zeiss Control Console.
2) The People's Observatory, on Buhl Planetarium's third floor, cannot be altered in any way which would prevent the return and use, at some future date, of the historic 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope.
3) A dedicated lighting system, on the ceiling of Buhl Planetarium's Great Hall, should be retained for return and display of " The Rise of Steel Technology" Mural by local artist Nat Youngblood.
4) A comprehensive inventory of all other City-owned artifacts, from the Buhl Planetarium, should be compiled, so that these other artifacts are not lost forever. The inventory previously compiled and included in the Children’s Museum Lease is not complete.
None of these conditions would seriously hinder the programming of the Children's Museum in the original Buhl Planetarium. Yet, these four conditions would assure that historic equipment and artifacts, important to the history of
, can some day be restored to use by the public. Pennsylvania
The Honorable Governor Edward G. Rendell 2003 February 10 Page 2 of 4
The Buhl Planetarium and
, opened in 1939 on Instituteof Popular Science ’s Lower North Side, was the fifth major planetarium constructed in the Pittsburgh ; the “ Americas ” was the third major American museum to specialize in the physical sciences. Until October, the Buhl Planetarium building included the sole-remaining operable Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, which until its dismantling in October was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world !!! Instituteof Popular Science
Until October, the building also included a rather unique 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, the second largest of its type; a giant Mercator’s Projection Map of the World [largest such map in the world, when first unveiled at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City]; “The Rise of Steel Technology” mural, by well-known local artist Nat Youngblood, and several smaller artifacts. Despite the continued educational value of these pieces of equipment and artifacts, the Children’s Museum has obtained permission from the City of
[which owns the site, building, equipment, and artifacts] to have them dismantled. Pittsburgh
Some years from now, the Children's Museum or another tenant may wish to reinstall the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, and "The Rise of Steel Technology" Mural by local artist Nat Youngblood, in the Buhl Planetarium building. This could be in response to a space mission to the Planet Mars, or discovery of a new comet, or, even the advance of business and commerce in Outer Space.
the original Buhl Planetarium is today, they could do so for very little cost.
This would be a great benefit to the Commonwealth, as it would reuse major
publicly-owned artifacts for public education. And,
The Buhl Planetarium building was custom-constructed for the historic planetarium projector and telescope. Proposed alterations to this publicly-owned building could make reinstallation of this historic equipment cost-prohibitive. This would preclude reinstallation of the historic equipment and artifacts. Whether the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment is restored by The Carnegie Science Center, or by active volunteers as has been done with other historic telescopes and planetarium projectors here and elsewhere in the world, the utilization of this equipment is only possible if they can be installed in a proper facility; if not, this publicly-owned equipment would remain as dismantled artifacts in storage forever!
dismantled and removed the Zeiss Projector, Siderostat Telescope, and Mercator’s Projection World Map from the Buhl Planetarium building. They now sit in the Carnegie Science Center warehouse where they will likely remain for many years—perhaps forever, if there is no place where they can be reassembled. “The Rise of Steel Technology” Mural was also dismantled and placed in storage elsewhere in the Buhl Planetarium building. Science Center
claims that the Zeiss Projector and Mercator’s Projection World Map will be reassembled in a new “Final Frontier” exhibit, to open at the Carnegie Science Center in 2005. The Science Center management has publicly stated that the Zeiss Projector would not be used for planetarium shows in the Carnegie Science Center ; indeed, the current Science Center planetarium is too small for use of the Zeiss Projector. Science Center
If the Zeiss Projector were to be displayed only in a Science Center exhibit, the projector would never again provide, for public view, the superb Zeiss star and planet images, even if the projector bulbs are activated and some star-like images are projected on a nearby projection screen. The newer, computerized planetarium projectors, such as the
’s Digistar II, may have advanced features the Zeiss Projector does not have. However, the star-field images of the Zeiss II Projector are unsurpassed in quality by any other projector in the Commonwealth! Science Center
The Honorable Governor Edward G. Rendell 2003 February 10 Page 3 of 4
We seriously doubt that the “Final Frontier” exhibit will be completed by 2005. In fact, it is likely that this exhibit will not be displayed until an expansion of the
building is constructed. Science Center
The price tag for the “Final Frontier” exhibit is $3 million; the
has raised very little of this amount, as of now. Further, if this exhibit is constructed as planned outside of the Science Center planetarium entrance, it will restrict space for the Science Center ’s second floor traveling exhibits gallery. Science Center
Traveling exhibits are crucial to the
’s revenue stream, as they assure both new and return business. It is highly unlikely that the Science Center will reduce the space for traveling exhibits, just to display the Zeiss Projector and other artifacts. Science Center
The proposed expansion of The Carnegie Science Center has been discussed for several years. The price tag for this proposed expansion is between $62 million and $90 million. Please note that the original
opened in 1991 at a cost of $40 million [and, $17 million of this amount was provided by the Commonwealth!]. Carnegie Science Center
A few years ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly did authorize the expenditure of up to $45 million of State capital funds for the proposed
project. However, when doling out capital funds for various projects in November, former Governor Mark Schweiker did not propose the use of any State funds for this project! Science Center
To our knowledge, the
has raised no private funds for this project. Considering the current economic conditions in this nation, it seems unlikely that $62-90 million can be raised anytime in the foreseeable future. Science Center
Further, reassembly and reuse of the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, as proposed by the
, cannot occur without expansion of the Science Center building. The roof of the current Science Center building is not strong enough for erection of a new observatory for this telescope. Science Center
The four conditions we propose would not seriously hinder the programming of the Children’s Museum. Indeed, Children’s Museum Executive Director Jane Werner admitted, in a story published in April in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that retention of the Zeiss Projector in the Buhl Planetarium’s basement Zeiss Pit [an option that was proposed by Friends of the Zeiss and considered by Pittsburgh City Council] would not interfere with the Children’s Museum’s plans. Yet, the Children’s Museum preferred that the artifacts be removed; Pittsburgh City Council approved this request.
We have attempted to explain to Pittsburgh City Council the importance, to Pittsburgh-area history, of maintaining the building in such a way that the historic equipment and artifacts could some day be returned and used. City Council has ignored our pleas, which we find very short-sighted.
The building, equipment, and artifacts of The Buhl Planetarium and
are an important part of the history of the Instituteof Popular Science . We certainly understand that development must continue for the Commonwealth to effectively compete in the world market place today. However, we do not agree that such development needs to preclude the future reinstallation and reuse of very historic equipment and artifacts. Commonwealthof Pennsylvania
The Honorable Governor Edward G. Rendell 2003 February 10 Page 4 of 4
Indeed, the future reinstallation and reuse of such historic equipment and artifacts could give the Commonwealth a competitive edge that no other state or region can replicate. The one major advantage that
has is our valuable infrastructure. Cities in the “sunbelt” cannot replicate the wonderful built environment Pennsylvania has, provided by philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie and foundations such as the Buhl Foundation. Pennsylvania
We, respectfully, request that strong consideration be given to our request, to ensure the history of
can, some day in the future, be easily and inexpensively displayed and utilized for the benefit of future Pennsylvanians. Pennsylvania
We would be happy to discuss this request with you or someone you delegate to represent you in this matter. We would also be pleased to provide whatever additional information about this issue, or about Buhl Planetarium, that you require. Thank you for your kind consideration of this request.
Glenn A. Walsh
of the Zeiss Organizational Information:
Copy: Richard Dreher, Program Manager, Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program,
Office of the Budget,
Senator Jim Ferlo, Pennsylvania General Assembly
Representative Don Walko, Pennsylvania General Assembly
Members of the Council of the City of
Members of Friends of the Zeiss
News Media in
Tom Murphy, Mayor, City of
Dale A. Perrett, Director, City of
Jacqueline R. Morrow, Solicitor, City
Yvonne S. Schlosberg, Assistant
Solicitor, City of
Tom Flaherty, City Controller, City
Congressman Timothy F. Murphy,
Bryce McMinn, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Timothy F. Murphy