COLUMBIA (WACH) - There is a 40 thousand pound tripod as you enter the South Carolina State Museum that goes all the way upstairs to a telescope that will serve as the centerpiece for the State Museum's world class renovation.
"So it's just an amazing approach as you walk in and you see this telescope, which you never see a telescope in this type of environment. A lot of times when you see telescopes, they're for exhibit. Kind of to look at but not to look through." says Tom Falvey, the Director of Education at the South Carolina State Museum.
That telescope is not only an amazing centerpiece, but a historic piece all on its own. Sitting atop the tripod you see as you enter the museum, this telescope was made in 1926, and will be available for folks to look through on site, as well as access its captured images online. Downstairs, another remarkable piece of the more than $20 million renovation is a 4-D movie theater.
"So this is where you'll get sprayed. So we have scent, water, and air. You'll get blasted. So it's all on a massive 34 x 18 screen." Falvey explains.
The theater will allow you to be fully immersed in your viewing pleasure, such as Polar Express during the holidays. The abbreviated versions of movies will allow you to sense smells, feel wind and vibrations, and even get poked in the back. Another notable addition to the museum will be the digital dome planetarium and theater. The completely immersive environment will provide educational yet fun programs on things like astronomy and history. The 55 foot dome shaped projection screen will allow people to feel like they are actually watching the night sky or touring the Egyptian pyramids. It will be the largest planetarium dome in the southeast. And all these spectacular additions are definitely getting national attention.
"We get calls from folks in Australia. And we've already done different types of skype and things with folks in Australia who want to know what we're doing and how we can collaborate. In London, of course we're talking to the folks in London who are doing different types of astronomy projects. The people who collect telescopes from all over the world want to know about our collection and they've already done research here on our lenses and parts of our collection. So we definitely are getting that type of attention. Worldwide attention." says Falvey.
And these projects only show the tip of the iceburg for what you can expect in the state museum once the renovations are expected to be complete this upcoming August.
The museum will be showcasing an antique telescope collection on the same floor as the large telescope you just saw. The rare collection will feature the largest public collection of early American made telescopes in the world.