Morehead History

Part 6 – The Morehead Today

Today, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is renewing itself. In 2002, John Motley Morehead’s gift to his state and his alma mater was rechristened the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center to reflect an expanded mission. From now on, Morehead will no longer just be a gateway to the stars, but rather a gateway to all the sciences, exposing audiences to fields like genetics, virtual reality and nanotechnology.

3 millionth visitor
Former Morehead Director Holden Thorp (L) moderated a lecture by Dr. James Watson during his visit to help premiere "DNA: The Secret of Life" in May 2003.
“While we are entering a new era at the Morehead Center, we are committed to the original vision of our benefactor, John Motley Morehead III – to educate and inspire our visitors about the wonders of science,” Thorp said.

In May 2003, the Morehead Center made the first step towards fulfilling its new mission with the debut of the film “DNA: The Secret of Life,” which the Center produced in collaboration with U.K.-based filmmakers, Windfall Films, and James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.

One imagines that John Motley Morehead – a chemist – would be pleased to know that the institution he created is now growing to educate North Carolina about all the branches of science. After all, as the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel said more than a half-century ago, “A scientist himself, he recognized that the American people must understand science.”

Planetarium Directors

Roy K. Marshall
Called “the best planetarium man in America,” Marshall left his position as director of Philadelphia’s Fels Planetarium to lead Morehead.

Anthony Jenzano
The longest serving director, Jenzano assembled the Planetarium’s first Zeiss projector by hand and secured the Planetarium’s position as a center for astronaut training.

Lee Shapiro
Shapiro guided the Planetarium through its 50th Anniversary celebrations and oversaw certain critical upgrades and renovations to the Planetarium’s facilities.

Holden Thorp
Thorp guided the Morehead Center towards becoming a comprehensive science center for all North Carolinians.

Todd Boyette
Boyette assumed the directorship in July 2006, bringing a strong background in science education and museum management to Morehead Center.