Officially launched in October 2012, the $1.2-million drive seeks to revitalize some of the museum’s offerings, which will help provide new experiences for repeat visitors. Along with a new planetarium projector, the funds will go toward obtaining traveling exhibits as well as the installment of permanent hands-on displays.
“We’re close to $1 million now,” Tellus Executive Director Jose Santamaria said. “It’s very exciting. It’s also getting us very organized and motivated to start looking at how we’re going to implement this.
“Now we’re starting to plan gallery construction. We’re taking a hard look at the schedule of exhibits that we have proposed. At some point we’re going to have to get cracking and get working on making it happen.”
To help Tellus reach the $1.2-million mark, the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation awarded the museum at $75,000 challenge grant. For all pledges and gifts placed by Dec. 31, the grant will add 50 percent, for example a $50 donation will be increased to $75.
In honor of their contributions, supporters donating $250 or more will be recognized on a permanent wall of honor.
“What [this campaign is] going to do is it’s going to be bringing new things to Tellus, but continuously,” Santamaria said. “One of the main things that the funds are going to be used for is to bring traveling exhibits to the museum. So we’re going to finish out some areas in the museum and we’re going to use those for traveling exhibits. ... So [there will be] something new to see every time you visit.
“We have a lot of [interactive exhibits] but I think that’s always been a desire from visitors to see more. So we plan to bring in more permanent — these are not traveling exhibits — interactive exhibits throughout the whole museum. And then lastly, the projector. The one that we have now was cutting-edge technology when we got it but that was about six years ago. ... This new projector is going to be brighter, sharper, more colorful. It’s going to be pretty awesome. ... For visitors, and returning visitors and members, we don’t want to get people thinking once they’ve been here a couple times, they’ve seen it and done it. We want them to feel as though there’s something new to experience and something new here to do.”
Encompassing 120,000 square feet at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville, Tellus is comprised of four main galleries — The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and The Collins Family My Big Backyard hands-on science gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum has attracted about 900,000 visitors since opening in January 2009.
For David Dundee, astronomy program manager for Tellus, the opportunity to acquire a new digital projector is exciting, since it will enhance the quality of the planetarium’s images. Offering five or six shows for public viewing annually, the planetarium is expected to draw about 80,000 patrons this year.
“The name of the game when you do a digital planetarium is brightness and resolution,” Dundee said. “So the more pixels you can put up in the dome, the better your image, the denser your colors, the more vivid the images are. So when we make the upgrade from the Mediaglobe-II to the Mediaglobe-III projector, it will increase our number of pixels by almost 2 million pixels.
“So we’ll have about 215 percent more pixels than we have right now. So the image will be a much higher resolution. The colors will be more vivid and will be brighter. So we’ll be able to do programming using a higher resolution, so the images will look much better. The current projector we have, really we’re stretching it to its limit of capability to the 40-foot dome that we have. And this new machine will easily handle that diameter dome, even bigger if we had it. So we’re very excited about that.”
As opposed to traditional planetarium projectors, which Dundee said generally need to be upgraded every 30 to 40 years, the digital projectors can have a shorter lifespan due to continuous technology advancements.
“When you’re in the digital domain, the technology is changing so rapidly that you’re really looking at upgrades about every five years or so,” Dundee said. “You’re looking for the next upgrade to keep up with all the technology that’s happening with the digital universe. So we’re really excited.
“Plus, this new machine will have a lot of atmospheric effects that we don’t currently have. For example, in our live star shows, which we do twice a day, we’ll now have the capability of making clouds and rainstorms and snowstorms. .... Things like that, we can just call up in our live presentations, which we can’t currently do other than in the individual shows in the prerecorded films that we run.”
For more information about Tellus and its upcoming events and programs, call 770-606-5700 or visit www.tellusmuseum.org.