Art in Pittsburgh’s Original Buhl Planetarium
       By Glenn A. Walsh
           2008 April
Image of painting of Comet Halley

Painting of Comet Halley donated to Buhl Planetarium in 1986 by industrialist Willard F. Rockwell, Jr. This is
an example of one of the many works of art, displayed to the general public, at Pittsburgh's original
Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.

Science-related art can be used as another tool to
help explain science topics to the general public.
When Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and
Institute of Popular Science opened in 1939,
science-related art was an important part of the new
Sculptor Sidney Waugh was commissioned to produce
several relief’s on the exterior of the building --
"Primitive Science" and "Modern Science"
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"The Heavens"
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"The Earth"
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"Day" (above *east* emergency exit)
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"Night" (above *west* emergency exit)
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Eight astronomical paintings by Pennsylvania architect
and artist Daniel Owen Stephens were displayed to the
public in Buhl Planetarium's Mezzanine Gallery for the
entire time Buhl was open as a public museum (1939 to
1991). Additionally, portraits of Henry Buhl, Jr.
(whose foundation built Buhl Planetarium, following
his death) and his wife were also displayed to the
public in the first floor's Great Hall (and a second
Henry Buhl portrait hung in Buhl Planetarium's
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Later on, eight astronomical murals, displayed under
black-light in the Hall of the Universe, were added.
These are now displayed to the public in the
Hoover-Price Planetarium in Canton, Ohio.
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The artist, Ben Byrer, would also display his
"Barnwood Paintings" each year from November to
February, in conjunction with the annual display of
the very popular Miniature Railroad and Village:
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For several years, PPG Industries sponsored an exhibit
called "Masterpieces in Glass" which included several
art works produced in back-lit glass (including one
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"The Rise of Steel Technology" large mural, by Nat H.
Youngblood, hung on the south wall of the first
floor's Great Hall for many years:
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At the beginning of the age of satellites, Buhl
Planetarium displayed murals of two early satellites,
Explorer VI and Tiros I:
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With the 1985 to 1986 apparition of Halley's Comet,
industrialist Willard F. Rockwell, Jr. donated a
painting of Halley's Comet, he found in England, to
Buhl Planetarium:
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Buhl's World Globe and large Mercator's Projection Map
of the World (considered world's largest such
Mercator's Map, when produced in 1939) were also
considered works of art at Buhl Planetarium:
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And, several of Buhl Planetarium's permanent and
temporary exhibits included painted dioramas, to help
explain the exhibit.
Additionally, Buhl Planetarium regularly featured
temporary exhibits such as the annual Allegheny
Artists League Show and the photography exhibitions,
"News Pix Salon" and "Nikon's Small World."
This clearly demonstrates that science-related art can
be another important tool in explaining science to the
public, a tool that Pittsburgh's original Buhl
Planetarium used extensively from the very beginning.