JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Major renovations could begin late this year at a downtown Jackson landmark.
The city is expected to begin gutting a portion of the Russell C. Davis Planetarium, the first step in what will be a major renovation of the facility.
Meanwhile, the city is hoping to kick its fund-raising efforts into high gear to raise additional money for the work.
So far, about $3 million of the $12 million has been raised, said David Lewis, Deputy Director of Human and Cultural Services.
Those funds include state bond money, city allocations and proceeds through an earlier fund-raising effort.
“We raised about $13,000 through the sale of limited-edition merchandise,” Lewis said. “Now, we’re reaching out to private businesses and entities for naming opportunities.”
Funds will be used to completely renovate the facility – the first major renovation in 42 years, WLBT reported in June.
Plans include renovating the third-floor exhibit space, as well as installing new seating, new lighting, reworked restroom facilities, Lewis explained.
“The projector is five to six years old now. It’s in really great shape,” Lewis said. “We want to make sure the theater experience reflects that.”
New exhibits are also on tap, to replace the ones that were last up to date during the days of the space shuttle.
“We want to create new ones that will be beyond current and easily updatable,” he said, saying that new ones will feature virtual reality and augmented reality.
Meanwhile, the second floor will be gutted and redesigned for use as an adaptive learning space, while a new atrium will be built on the first floor to better connect the planetarium with the Mississippi Arts Center.
Lewis said work could have to be implemented in phases, depending on funding availability.
It was not clear exactly what work could be completed with the funds already in the bank.
“We’re committed to this vision,” he said. “We want to take the planetarium to the next level, to provide a significant attraction not only for Jackson, but for the region.”
Plans were drawn up by CDFL Architects, Lewis said.
The planetarium closed in April 2018 due to damage from a previous hailstorm. Lewis hopes the facility can reopen to the public in the late spring or early summer of 2022.
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