The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science,
2000 December
The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building, in Pittsburgh's Allegheny Center, has been closed to the public, since The Carnegie Science Center's Science and Computer classes were transferred to the Science Center's main building in February of 1994. Prospects are now looking good that this historic building, with some historic artifacts remaining inside, will become part of an expanded Pittsburgh Children's Museum within the next two or three years.

This month, the Children's Museum announced the winner of an architectural competition, to design a building which would connect the Buhl Planetarium building(1939) with the former Allegheny Post Office building(1897) which currently houses the Children's Museum. Koning Eizenberg Architecture of Santa Monica, California won this competition with a building design reminiscent of a child's night light. In their entry, the architects wrote: "It is a 'night light' symbol for children's advocacy and care."

There was some talk of moving Buhl's Zeiss II Planetarium Projector[the oldest operable, major planetarium projector in the world!] out of the building, during the rehabilitation process. However, Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Barbara Burns, a long-time public official from the North Side[including five years as President of the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education] talked to Children's Museum officials about keeping the projector as an historical part of the building. Although there are details to be ironed-out, the Children's Museum has agreed to keep the historic projector in the building.

One of the details to be ironed-out is the use of the Zeiss II projector. I have proposed that the projector be used for historical demonstrations four times a year, on the Friday evening or Saturday closest to the official change of season. At these times, the classic constellation-identification shows, Stars of Spring, Stars of Summer, Stars of Autumn, and Stars of Winter would be shown to the public, possibly followed by public viewing using Buhl's 10-inch, "Siderostat-type" Refractor Telescope. Volunteers, including myself, would be available to present these shows to the public.

As of yet, there is no definite timetable for construction and opening of the expanded Children's Museum, which may be called the Pittsburgh Children's Center, although they are tentatively aiming for a February, 2003 opening. Once all costs for the expansion are determined, a capital campaign will begin to raise the needed money.

Models and plans for all entries in the architectural competition[including the winning entry] will be displayed to the public at Carnegie Museum in Oakland from January 10 through February 2, 2001.

Last year, I created an Internet Web Site on the History of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, to commemorate Buhl's 60th anniversary. Recently, I found it necessary to move this web site to a new web host, with a new web address:

< http://www.planetarium.cc >

Please excuse any dead links you find on the Buhl web site, although much of the site is available for viewing now. I am still in the process of correcting some links on the Buhl web pages, due to the change in web domains. Hopefully, these links should all be corrected within the next month or so.


Glenn A. Walsh
633 Royce Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15243-1149

Telephone: 412-561-7876
Electronic Mail: < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Internet Web Site: < http://www.planetarium.cc >