As part of a major expansion project, South Carolina State Museum has opened its new planetarium, 4D theatre and observatory to the public.
The new museum master plan and exhibit design blends history with technology to drive forward its mission to entertain, inspire imagination and creativity and enrich its visitors’ lives.
The State Museum retained JRA as a thematic design consultant. JRA’s scope comprised everything from planning and conceptual design through concept and schematic design for the new retail outlet; both interior and exterior environmental graphics; design input for much of the common areas including meeting capabilities within the museum as well as enhanced guest services, to materials and finishes selection.
The JRA designed Main Lobby showcases iconic artefacts native to the region which represent the museum’s four disciplines: science and technology; art; natural history and cultural history.
Permanent exhibits by the Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors’ Bureau; South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department and South Carolina Educational Television will also feature.
One of the expansion project’s cornerstones, the Cotton Mill Exchange museum store, captures the essence of the historic mill in which the museum is located, and features newly uncovered brick walls and windows which date back to 1894.
The South Carolina State Museum is the first of its kind to house both an on-site and online classroom and observatory together with a 55-foot planetarium dome and a 4D multisensory theatre.
The museum also boasts new exhibit space for the largest collection of historic American refracting telescopes in the world, the Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy telescopes and optics.
Another feature is an outdoor viewing terrace for the museum’s vintage 1926 Alvan Clark 12-3/8” refracting telescope.
Willie Calloway, Executive Director of South Carolina’s State Museum, commented:
“JRA helped fulfill our vision and did a remarkable job creating a thematic design that celebrates South Carolina and our historic mill building. We are glad we hired the best-of-the best in the entertainment design industry to create a unique facility and experience for our guests.”
The South Carolina State Museum, located at 301 Gervais Street, Columbia, S.C., 29201, is one of the largest examples of an interdisciplinary museum connected to an astronomy/STEM educational facility, and it will be the first organization in the nation to allow students and teachers to control a digitized vintage telescope remotely for education purposes.
The new State Museum, which expects an additional 75, 000 visitors in the first year and a growth in annual earned income from $1.5 million to $3 million, will have a significant economic impact on both Columbia and the State of South Carolina. Longer visitor dwell times will result in increased spending both at the museum and surrounding retail outlets, hotels and restaurants, boosting tax revenues across the city, county, region and state.