Letter-to-the-Editor, Pittsburgh City Paper,

from Francis G. Graham

Published 2002 August 21

"Science Centerís distorted lens"

Dear Editor:

I found Charles Rosenblumís recent piece "The Sky is Not Falling"[July 10] misleading as to how historical renovation is done. In arguing for its destruction as a system and gutting of the Buhl Planetarium, some in the Carnegie Science Center give the impression that the Zeiss Model II star projector is inoperable and impossible to restore with less than the sum of the national debt.

This is a perspective generated because there are relatively few things in the Carnegie Science Center that are historical, with the exception of the submarine and an old 4-inch Brashear telescope at the entrance. But one needs only to look locally to see ample counterexamples. The gears and operational works of the Duquesne Incline are operating very well, thanks to a nonprofit group concerned with its historical preservation. Old discarded streetcars are running on the tracks at the Trolley museum in Arden PA thanks to careful painstaking restoration work by dedicated volunteers. At the Beaver County Airport, historical airplanes are routinely taken from the status of junk to airworthiness by careful amateurs who are diligent students of the art of restoration. Even in the realm of planetarium projectors, an old Korkosz projector in Springfield, Mass., was restored by similar volunteer sweat and savvy.

None of the above organizations have world-class budgets. Both "Save the Buhl" and "Friends of the Zeiss" need only a say-so from the city to use similar volunteer time and talent to make a wonder come alive to educate and entertain thousands again.

What a waste of a unique historical system if they aren't given the chance to try. The Buhl Planetarium is a nearly vanished art form, and a valuable asset to local and world technological history that it seems senseless to wreck.

Francis Graham

East Liverpool, Ohio