THE BUHL PLANETARIUM AND
INSTITUTE OF POPULAR SCIENCE
Constructed at a cost of $1.1 million by the Buhl
Dedicated and conveyed to the City of Pittsburgh on October 24,
Exterior façade consists of Indiana Limestone, with statuary
produced by well-known sculptor Sidney Waugh.
Interior walls and pendulum pit consist of Florentine Marble.
First public building in the City(and, possibly the State) built with
The Theater of the Stars and the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector
Oldest operating, major planetarium projector in the
Fifth major planetarium in the United States; last installed
before World War II.
First planetarium projector in the world to be placed on an
First planetarium theater in the world built with a
small theatrical stage.
First planetarium theater in the world(and, perhaps, the first
theater!) to install a special sound system specifically for the
Manufactured by the Zeiss Optical Works in Jena, Germany at a cost of
Projector includes 106 lenses capable of producing 9,000 star
Provided courses in Celestial Navigation to military pilots, bound for
service in World War II.
The People's Observatory and the Ten-inch, Siderostat-type,
Second largest Siderostat-type telescope in the world!
Dedicated November 19, 1941; Harlow Shapley, well-known twentieth
century astronomer(then, Director of the Harvard College Observatory)
delivered keynote address. The Planet Saturn was the first object viewed
through the telescope.
Designed primarily for public use, but constructed at professional
observatory specifications, at a cost of $30,000.
Historic Anecdote: On the same evening of the Observatory dedication,
Buhl started a new Planetarium Sky Show and opened a new gallery exhibit.
The Sky Show, regarding Celestial Navigation, was titled "Bombers by
Starlight." The new exhibit, in Buhl's lower-level Octagon Gallery(which
encircles the planetarium projector pit, below the planetarium theater)
was titled "Can America Be Bombed?" This exhibit opened two and one-half
weeks before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii!
OTHER HISTORIC EQUIPMENT AND ARTIFACTS IN BUILDING
- Large World Map - Originally created by the U.S. Maritime
Commission for the 1939 World's Fair in New York City, at the time of
creation it was considered the largest Mercator's Projection Map in the
world! This map is displayed along the western wall of the first
floor's Great Hall.
- U.S. Steel Mural - This large mural, attached to the southern
wall of the first floor's Great Hall, depicts the rise of technology. A
special lighting system for this mural exists, with the control unit
located in the former office of Buhl's Discovery gift shop.
- Beautiful brass and marble pit displaying the true cardinal points
of the compass - Originally used to display the Foucault Pendulum, it
still displays the cardinal points of direction.
- Grand Clock - This clock greets the public as they enter the
building's front doors; its control unit is located on the second
- Beautiful Wood-Paneled Library - This is located on the
building's second floor.
- Lighted Picture Displays - Several lighted picture display
cases exist, either imbedded into the wall(Planetarium hallway) or mounted
on the wall(Observatory); any type of picture can be displayed.
- Lecture Hall Science Table - This is located in the front of
the Lecture Hall and is usable for any type of science
- Painting of Halley's Comet - The late Willard F. Rockwell, Jr.,
former Chairman of Rockwell International Corporation and Founder of
Astrotech International Corporation, donated a painting of Halley's Comet,
created in Great Britain, to Buhl in 1986. This painting is currently
located on the eastern wall of the Lecture Hall(a.k.a. Little Science
Theater); it could be moved elsewhere.
- Epideoscope - Antique, overhead-type projector used for Buhl's
first Life Sciences public presentation, "The Micro Zoo." It is unknown
whether this projector still operates. It is currently located in the
Lecture Hall, but it could be displayed elsewhere.
- Oscilloscope - Large older model, used for presentations in the
Lecture Hall; it could be used and displayed elsewhere.
- Rainbow Wallpaper - Wallpaper which refracts light, at the
entrance to the East Gallery.
The building, and all equipment and artifacts within
the building, are the property of the City of Pittsburgh. Learn more
about the building, and its history, at the Internet web site:
Glenn A. Walsh
633 Royce Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15243-1149
Telephone: (412) 561-7876
Telefacsimile: (412) 276-9472
Internet Web Site: http://www.planetarium.cc