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The Future of Morehead

Since 1949, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has been inspiring visitors to #TakeUpSpace and pursue their interest in science.

Today, through on-site programming and extensive outreach initiatives, Morehead reaches every county in North Carolina. Morehead has expanded to produce its own award-winning fulldome planetarium shows, and in 2010 we founded the nation’s largest statewide celebration of science, the North Carolina Science Festival presented by the Biogen Foundation.

Our historic building is still a beloved destination. More than 160,000 students visit Morehead annually through field trips alone. For many of those students, a visit to the planetarium is their first interaction with science outside of the classroom and their first visit to a college campus.

Still, science changes every day. Since Morehead has had no significant physical upgrades since the day in 1949 when it opened its doors, it is well past due time to improve its visitor experience. Morehead is preparing for the next generation of explorers, who expect much more from museums and science centers than children did in 1949. With the #TakeUpSpace project, Morehead will gain five times the amount of floor space now dedicated to the public. The programming we’ll be equipped to provide will put us in a position to truly be a global leader in university-based science outreach education.

Keep checking here to mark our progress as the spaces continue to evolve. For now, here’s just an overview of what the Morehead #TakeUpSpace visitor experience transformation will look like.

A New Entry

Morehead will shift the entry point from the gift shop to the building’s West End facing McCorkle Place. Using the stately West End entrance immediately changes the message to visitors. It says Morehead and the University are pleased to welcome them to campus and prepares them to expect an outstanding experience inside.

A Warm Morehead Welcome

Guests will step into a reconfigured lobby space, complete with an electronic ticket kiosk and television displaying the day’s activities.

A Re-Imagined Rotunda I Gateway Gallery

The Rotunda will return to John Motley Morehead III’s original vision — a place where art and science intersect. The space will tell Mr. Morehead’s story. Exhibit elements will pay tribute to UNC’s history as a pioneer of space exploration, while creating a bridge to the future.

A New Science Stage

Off of the Rotunda — or Gateway Gallery — Morehead’s science stage began life as an ad hoc location to show “DNA: The Secret of Life” for 18 months. Thirteen years later, it features some of Morehead’s most popular programming, while definitely showing its age. This project will modernize the space, freshening it and outfitting it for a variety of in-person science programming.

Launch Lab

In what is currently the South Gallery, the “Launch Lab” will be a “maker space,” part exhibit, part program and all interactive. Through experimentation, invention and creativity, visitors will be empowered to construct real-world solutions to specific science problems.

Breakthrough! A Lab to Life Exhibit

This gallery will focus on various advances researchers are making in science, health and technology. It will also give guests insight into the pursuit of modern science.

The Planetarium

Entering from our new exhibit gallery, our historic Morehead Planetarium will see updated seats, carpet and a fresh coat of paint. We will still continue to run state-of-the-art full dome planetarium shows throughout our construction.