After 40-year closure, Edmonton planetarium to reopen – Edmonton

After closing its doors in the mid-80s, the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium in Edmonton has been restored and will reopen with a free weekend event.

The planetarium originally opened in 1960, according to its first director, Ian McLennan, but when the Zeidler Dome in the nearby Telus World of Science was built, the smaller planetarium was shuttered.

“The Queen Elizabeth Planetarium could easily have gone into obscurity and just been demolished, but cooler and smarter heads prevailed,” said McLennan.

Starting in 2017, the planetarium was restored and designated as a Municipal Heritage Resource, Shannon Fitzsimmons, director of facility planning and design at the city, said.

“The intent is always to maintain the original design and restore the original architectural elements when and where we can,” she said.

The Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium reopened Sept. 29, 2023.

Global News

Crews focused on restoring tile work, refurbishing railings and improving woodwork, Fitzsimmons said.

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“That allowed us to improve accessibility and sustainability and balance that with the original design — things like having LED lighting, a new mechanical system and improving access to the building itself by way of a ramp and then a lift inside,” she said.

While the Zeidler Dome is good for extravagant productions, the QEP —10 metres across with a circular seating arrangement — will be perfect for talking to kids about outer space, McLennan said.

“You can go on the surface of Mars or on the surface of Jupiter, you can go up to the extremities of the known universe right back to the beginning of the universe 13.8 billion years ago, you can see stuff that’s being processed with the James Webb Telescope, for instance,” he said.

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The inside of the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium.

Supplied / Telus World of Science

Constance Scarlett, president and CEO of Telus World of Science Edmonton (TWOSE), said the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada will have meetings and hold community events in the planetarium, and the centre will start offering programming for kids in the new year.

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“When this building became too small for Edmontonians, it grew into the Edmonton Space Sciences Centre, which is the science centre that we all know and love today,” Scarlett said.

“We really see it as being a part of our history and we’re glad that we’re able to animate the space again.”

Edmontonians can access the planetarium for free this weekend, from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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