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DENVER-The Denver Museum of Nature and Science plans to build a $45-million space science project, the most ambitious in its 100-year history. To pay for the massive addition, the museum plans a $30 million fund-raising campaign, with plans to open the facilities in three years.

The space science program has three components: a 30,000-sf space exhibit, renovation of Gates Planetarium, and an expanded Community Science Program. To date, the campaign has raised $13.7 million toward the $30 million. The money has come from the museum board, Gates Family Foundation, Adolph Coors Foundation, the Pauline A. and George R. Morrison Trust, the Schlessman Family Foundation and Lockheed Martin, the first of several aerospace, computer and telecommunications companies the museum plans to tap for its fund-raising effort.

The 30,000-sf exhibit will be built without expanding the museum building. Instead, other exhibits will be moved to accommodate it. The exhibit and the renovated planetarium will open in 2003.

The current circular auditorium in the planetarium will be replaced with a stadium-seat facility similar to an IMAX theater and a descending dome. The new planetarium will be able to communicate with space shuttles and depict developments in space as they happen. The permanent exhibit will include a “visitor center for the universe,” complete with travel guides, simulated astronaut training center, simulated Mars research station, deep space computer simulations projected in a theater and SunFest, a carnival setting for studying the sun.

Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of New York City and Los Angeles serves as the lead architectural firm. The firm is no stranger to Colorado, having worked on Denver’s Boettcher Concert Hall and Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek.

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