Rendering of the Astronomy & physical Science center by TSKP STUDIO Hartford, CT

In case you thought the Stamford Museum and Nature Center (SM&NC; stamfordmuseum.org) was all about the earth and human’s history here, think again. They’re reaching for the stars. Located on 118 beautiful acres in North Stamford and open to the community since 1936, SM&NC’s future is limitless. It is making strides in Phase 2 of its expansion plans: a new Astronomy & Physical Science Center. At 8,000-square-feet, it will expand SM&NC’s observatory with a full planetarium and create a new venue. It will feature three levels: first, a 100-seat planetarium auditorium with state-of-the-art technology; second, a science lab classroom; and third, an outdoor viewing deck that leads up to a forty-foot aluminum dome over a twenty-two-inch research telescope.

 SM&NC’s recently formed Science Advisory Council will help guide the center’s design and development. The council includes area educational leaders and ex officio members U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. “It is rewarding to have secured the commitment of such well-known and well-respected leaders in the educational and science communities,” noted Melissa H. Mulrooney, executive director and CEO. “We believe that their expert counsel will have a tremendous impact on the development of our building, public programming and science curriculum moving forward and enhance the reputation and visibility of the Astronomy & Physical Science Center.”

Each year, some 200,000 people from the area visit SM&NC, and nearly an additional 34,800 students from 158 schools participate in its Aligned-With-The-Schools program. The new center means the museum can enrich its student curriculum, youth and family programs and adult programming and serve as a center for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and astronomy and math) education. 

The center and the Knobloch Family Farmhouse are part of the master plan to anticipate future needs for the museum’s educational and public spaces. SM&NC has raised about $9.5 million of the estimated $15 million to cover the projects. “With the grand opening of the farmhouse last November, we are focused on Phase 2 of our campaign plan to raise the necessary funds to develop the Astronomy & Physical Science Center—a profound educational resource not just for the region, but the entire State of Connecticut,” noted Michael Fedele, cochair of the capital campaign: The Campaign for Future Generations. Groundbreaking is planned for fall.

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