Friends of the Zeiss
Electronic Mail: < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Internet Web Site: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >
2005 June 30
Mr. David M. Hillenbrand, President
The Carnegie Museums of
Dear Mr. Hillenbrand:
First, I would like to congratulate you on your
appointment as the new President of The Carnegie Museums of
Let me introduce myself. I was employed with The
Carnegie Science Center’s predecessor, The Buhl Planetarium and
I now serve as Project Director of a new non-profit organization called Friends of the Zeiss. Friends of the Zeiss was formally organized in April of 2002, with the mission "To preserve, maintain and operate, and to raise funds for these purposes, two historic scientific instruments and associated apparatus and artifacts originated at The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."
Quite frankly, we have not been able to effectively perform
our mission, due to a dispute with The Carnegie Science Center. This dispute
began in 1995, when The Carnegie Science Center attempted to sell two very historic
pieces of apparatus from The Buhl Planetarium and
As this equipment, and other Buhl Planetarium artifacts, are legally the property of the City of
These and other Buhl artifacts, along with the Buhl
Planetarium building (also City property), were abandoned and turned-back to
the City, by Carnegie Institute, in December of 1996. Since that time, there
have been several proposals for reuse of the building. I provided tours of the
building for officials of the
In 2000, the Children’s
Mr. David M. Hillenbrand 2005 June 30 Page 2 of 4
historic equipment and artifacts should remain in the Buhl Planetarium building where they could actually be used
Hence, a plan was developed whereby The Carnegie Science Center would dismantle the Zeiss Projector, Siderostat Telescope, and the Mercator’s Projection Map of the World (when originally constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair, it was considered the largest such map in the world!) and they would be reassembled in an expanded Science Center building. Although the claim was made that the Siderostat Telescope and World Map would retain their functionality, the Science Center’s plan was to place the Zeiss II Projector on display as an exhibit, with minimal operation; it was publicly stated, by the Science Center Director, that a new 65-foot diameter domed, planetarium theater would not be built for the Zeiss II Projector (the current planetarium only has a 50-foot diameter dome, insufficient for use of the Zeiss II).
Friends of the Zeiss opposed the plan at
that time and continues to oppose that plan
to this day. The Zeiss II is the last operable, major pre-World War II
planetarium projector in the world. And, even your planetarium director
concedes that the Zeiss II gives a more realistic depiction of the night sky
than does the digital planetarium they are currently using. Relegating the
Zeiss II to being an exhibit, with minimal functionality, wastes this wonderful
resource. And, this does not well serve the history of
Charges that the Zeiss II can no longer operate are faulty. The Zeiss II was abandoned in 1994 and sat in an empty building for eight years, with little, if any, maintenance. So, of course, you cannot operate this projector without some maintenance and restoration, which Friends of the Zeiss is prepared to perform.
Directly across the
< http://www.incline.cc >.
Further, it has been suggested that Buhl’s Zeiss II (prior to dismantling) is not the oldest in the world. The facts are:
A Zeiss Projector in
A 1937 projector in
Hence, prior to the dismantling of the Zeiss II a year ago, Buhl Planetarium’s Zeiss II was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world !
Well, both historic instruments, as well as the World Map,
presently lay dismantled in the
We want to make you aware that there is a risk with the current storage of the Zeiss II Projector, Siderostat Telescope, World Map, and other original Buhl Planetarium artifacts that may be currently stored in the
Mr. David M. Hillenbrand 2005 June 30 Page 3 of 4
Fortunately, last September’s Hurricane Ivan did not flood
However, according to a National Weather Service
meteorologist I spoke with a couple years ago, it is only a matter of time
before another Hurricane Agnes-type flood event occurs on the
Hence, we believe that there is urgency in returning the
historic equipment and artifacts to the original Buhl Planetarium building. At
the very least, these artifacts should be removed from the
Now, we recognize the political problems with their
immediate return to the Buhl Planetarium building. The current tenant of the
Buhl Planetarium building, the Children’s
However, we strongly believe that these historic pieces of equipment and artifacts should be returned to the Buhl Planetarium building at the earliest opportunity. And, such an opportunity could present itself in a year or two.
The Children’s Museum has been running operating budget deficits in each of the past five fiscal years; nearly a million-dollar deficit last year and half-million dollar deficits in each of the previous two years! We believe that their contention that they can operate an expanded museum, four times the size of their original museum, without operating deficits is simply wishful thinking. Return and use of the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts could maximize the revenue potential of the Buhl Planetarium building and reduce Children’s Museum operating deficits in the future; we will seek City permission to return these artifacts to the Buhl Planetarium building, once it is demonstrated that the Children’s Museum cannot operate the enlarged museum without operating deficits. We are asking that The Carnegie Science Center cooperate in the return of the historic equipment and artifacts, to the Buhl Planetarium building, should such an opportunity arise.
At this time, we have two other requests:
According to the Proposal of The Carnegie Science Center, submitted during the
“CSC proposes to document all steps in the evaluation, disassembly and removal of the artifacts through still photography and through digital videography of key steps in the procedure. This will create a permanent visual record of the condition of the artifacts at the time of removal and the actual steps and procedures in the process. CSC will also provide a written documentation of the results of the evaluation for the City.”
Friends of the Zeiss would like to review the still photography and digital videography of the dismantling of the artifacts. We would also like a copy of any "written documentation of the results of the evaluation for
Mr. David M. Hillenbrand 2005 June 30 Page 4 of 4
the City.” Friends of the
Zeiss maintains an extensive Internet web site on the History of The
Buhl Planetarium and
We would like to include the still photographs of the dismantling procedures, for the three artifacts, on our Internet web site. Can copies of these photographs be provided to us? We would certainly be willing to pay any reasonable photograph copying charges.
the enclosed addendum, is a list of Buhl Planetarium artifacts owned by the City of
Pittsburgh, which we understand were moved to The Carnegie Science Center in 1991 or 1994. We,
respectfully, ask that we receive a report regarding the status and condition
of these artifacts. As these are all City property, we would be willing to
forward a copy of this report to the City of
Thank you for your kind consideration of these three requests. Friends of the Zeiss would be willing to meet with you, at your convenience, to further explain and discuss this matter. Do not hesitate to contact me for further information.
Glenn A. Walsh
Copy: Steering Committee, Friends of the Zeiss