Friends of the Zeiss                                                    Statement of

P.O. Box 1041                                                                                 Glenn A. Walsh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                                       Before the

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                                    Council of the

Electronic Mail: < >              City of Pittsburgh: 

Internet Web Site: < >             2004 November 30


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


The expanded Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, including use of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building, opened on November 6. We deplore the many changes made to the Buhl Planetarium building—much of this was change, just for the sake of change, to show-off the supposed “creativity” of certain artists and architects. However, with the retention of the Planetarium’s 65-foot diameter inner-dome and historic Westinghouse Worm-Gear Elevator [Buhl was the world’s first planetarium placed on an elevator], there would not be an exorbitant cost to some day returning the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector to the original Theater of the Stars.


This may not be the case for some day returning the 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope to Buhl’s original Astronomical Observatory. When in operation, the world’s second largest Siderostat Telescope allowed families to view planets and stars from a heated Observing Room, while the telescope and mirror remained in the unheated Telescope Room.


This month the State has given the Children’s Museum another $1 million. Part of this money will be used for an endowment and for renovation of classroom space. However, some of the tax money will be used for a non-educational purpose—conversion of the Telescope Room of the Buhl Observatory into a fancy Board Room for the Children’s Museum Board of Directors!


On the second floor of Buhl Planetarium is a beautiful wood-paneled Library and Board Room built in 1939 and completely funded by the Buhl Foundation—no tax dollars were used. However, this is not good enough for the Children’s Museum. Their Board of Directors has to build their own fancy Board Room, using State taxpayer dollars !!!


To prevent disruption of the telescopic image, the Telescope Room was specifically built without heat or air-conditioning; extra money will have to be spent to add heat and air-conditioning to this proposed new Board Room! If they believe the existing Library/Board Room is not large enough for their Board of Directors, it could be enlarged, which would cost less money than converting the Observatory into a Board Room.


Last year, The Carnegie Science Center cancelled their proposed $90 million expansion project. When retiring earlier this year, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh President Ellsworth Brown told a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter: "The possibility of a high-profile expansion now at the science center is remote." And, the current Science Center roof is not strong enough to house a Siderostat Telescope observatory!


So, any expansion of The Carnegie Science Center, in the foreseeable future, would be small. Funding limitations and/or the lower height of a building addition would probably preclude the use of the Siderostat Telescope.


With the conversion of the Buhl Observatory into a Board Room, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that the costs of some day returning the Siderostat Telescope to Buhl, or even building a new Siderostat observatory, will be higher than anyone will want to pay, due to the unique facility needed to house a Siderostat Telescope. Then, the Siderostat Telescope would remain dismantled forever, no longer benefiting the citizens of Pittsburgh.


We, respectfully, request that you contact the Children’s Museum Board and ask that they reconsider conversion of the Buhl Observatory into a Board Room.


Thank you.




Attachments:        News Article: “Children's Museum receives another $1 million in state funds,”

                                                Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2004 November 10

                                2004 November 26 Letter to Board of Directors, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh