Friends of the Zeiss                                     Statement Before

P.O. Box 1041                                                            Pittsburgh City Council:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                       2003 May 19

Telephone: 412-561-7876

Electronic Mail: < >

Internet Web Site: < >


Good morning, I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon. I am Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.


Last week, The Carnegie Science Center discharged the French architect for the proposed expansion of the Science Center building. They claim that this architect’s plans were too expensive. Yet, it was The Carnegie that chose these plans through a design competition, to provide a striking “signature” architectural wonder for the Science Center. How could this plan have NOT been very expensive?


In the Memoranda of Understanding that the Science Center signed last year, they promised the City that the Zeiss II Projector and the Mercator’s Projection World Map would be reassembled by 2005; the Siderostat Telescope would be reinstalled with the completion of the expansion project. Friends of the Zeiss questioned this ambitious timetable from the beginning. The whole idea that they could raise $90 million in current economic times, when they could only raise $40 million for the original Science Center building in 1991, clearly shows that the Science Center expansion project has been a pipe dream from the beginning!


Not only will the Science Center expansion timetable not be met, it is now questionable whether ANY expansion of the Science Center will take place in the foreseeable future!


Without expansion of the Science Center the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, 10-inch Sidersotat-type Refractor Telescope, and Mercator’s Projection Map of the World will remain dismantled indefinitely—possibly forever! AND, the dismantled parts of these historic pieces of Pittsburgh history will remain in storage in the Science Center warehouse—across the street from the Science Center. This one-floor and basement warehouse is in a flood plain—a flood plain that has been flooded within the last 31 years !


The entire area, around Three Rivers Stadium, was flooded in June of 1972, due to the remnants of Hurricane Agnes. Despite all of the flood control measures taken in the 1950s as part of Renaissance I, this flood did happen—and similar flooding can happen again!


Yes, the Science Center has insured the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment, as required by the City. But, it is unclear whether this general liability insurance policy includes flood insurance.


And, if flooding completely destroys these artifacts, how do you replace a historic 1939 Zeiss II Planetarium Projector? The answer is that you cannot; this history would be gone forever!


Last week, we also learned that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania MAY NOT fund the proposed expansion project of the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. Now, the future of this project is in question.


To assure the preservation of this historic equipment and artifacts, owned by the people of Pittsburgh, it is time to RETURN the Zeiss II Projector, Siderostat Telescope, and Mercator’s Projection World Map to the Buhl Planetarium building.


The Memoranda of Understanding clearly states that, “with reasonable advance written notice,” the City “may request return” of the equipment and artifacts, and then the Science Center “is responsible for safely removing and transporting” the equipment and artifacts “back to a location designated by the City.” We, respectfully, ask that the City of Pittsburgh invoke this clause to remove this historic City property from harms way and back to a site where they can be used and appreciated by the public.


Without their return to the Buhl Planetarium building, these historic artifacts may remain in storage forever—or until destroyed by floodwaters.


Thank you.