WAPAKONETA —The Armstrong Air and Space Museum is in the preliminary planning stages to renovate parts of the museum, while also adding an addition, said Christopher Burton, executive director.
“The plans, right now, are to expand the modern space program exhibit,” Burton said.
The space program didn’t end with Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, Burton said. The museum has a room dedicated to the modern space program but space is limited, he said. The museum does its best to keep exhibits of current events in space travel and in order to continue doing so Burton would like to add a 5,500-square-foot expansion to the modern space program exhibit.
“The entire museum is 17,000 square feet,” he said. “So this would be a significant expansion.”
The expansion would give the museum room to add more interactive exhibits, such as the Lunar Landing simulator and the zero gravity trainer too, he said. The last time Armstrong Air and Space Museum underwent renovations was in 1999, Burton said.
The preliminary plans also include a renovation of the theater, Burton said. When the museum was originally opened in 1972, the theater was meant to be a planetarium but budget restrictions prevented those plans from becoming a reality, he said.
The theater seats are old and need to be replaced, Burton said. The dome wall isn’t constructed properly for a planetarium show either, he said. The plan is to take that out and build a new inner and outer dome so proper planetarium shows can be put on for museum guests, he said.
The museum is also planning on building a modern classroom that can accommodate more people, Burton said.
“We’ll get 25 kids in there now but it’s a really tight fit,” Burton said.
The Armstrong Space Museum has an education staff, who teaches half-hour classes on science and space travel to visiting school students if the teachers request it. After-school and weekend science programs are offered by the museum as well.
“We reach over 10,000 people in outreach programs a year,” he said. “We need more education space.”
Making improvements to those three sections of the Armstrong Museum will cost $3 million, Burton said.
“We already have some state funding,” he said. “We have not found any federal money. At this point we’re looking for private funding.”
Burton has met with some local business leaders to discussion the renovations but many local businesses can’t afford to support a project that expensive, he said.
“Well start looking for regional, state, national and even international donation funding,” Burton said.
Reach Bryan Reynolds 567-242-0362