The Bell Museum + Planetarium retired the original Exploradome in 2017 after 11 years and 1,013 days of use, and upgraded to a new GeoDome Theater. “The final time we used the original Minnesota Planetarium Society/Bell Museum ExploraDome was at the MN State Fair, August 24 2017, after approximately 1,013 days in use! We did not retire it out of necessity. This one could have kept going for who knows how long!” said Sally Brummel, Planetarium Director for the Bell Museum.
The new ExploraDome is a GeoDome Theater with an OmniFocus 30500 projection system. Both WorldViewer and Uniview run on an Elumenati image generating computer. Most of the Bell’s programming is astronomy-based; they also test brain and heart programs with the University of Minnesota’s Medical Device Center and Interactive Visualization lab, with real-time tours like the Neurodome. Their primary audience is K-12 students; outreach events also reach community groups. The Bell also has a Portal system onsite at the museum.
“Our mission is to ignite curiosity and wonder, explore our connections to nature and the universe, and create a better future for our evolving world. The Exploradome allows us to travel to school and community sites to bring the wonders of the universe to them. Because it is a mobile system, we can travel beyond the Twin Cities area to greater Minnesota and western Wisconsin, expanding the museum’s reach beyond our walls,” said Sarah Komperud, Planetarium Educator.
The ExploraDome was the founding partner of the Minnesota Regional Planetarium Network. These GeoDomes are located in K12 school districts, universities, and museums across Minnesota, Wisconsin, North & South Dakota. The network shares costs, resources and programming opportunities, with a collaborative focus on teaching and learning in both fixed and portable GeoDome systems.
In 2006, the Minnesota Planetarium Society worked with The Elumenati to pilot and implement a prototype GeoDome Theater, as the first portable outreach dome running Uniview. Coined the ExploraDome by the MnPS, this popular outreach dome has now reached over 120,000 students and other learners in Minnesota schools.
Joel Halvorson and Sally Brummel guided this effort, and they have been instrumental in pushing the interactive use of domes as a tool for teaching and learning. They worked with colleagues around the world to develop the use of networked domecast presentations, and worked closely with NASA GSFC in the development of Earth science applications. We look forward to seeing the next phase of the Exploradome program!