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Union Station Unveils New High-Tech Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium

February 18, 2017

New, twin 4K projection technology – coupled with cutting-edge space
exploration software and new immersive programming – takes  guests
on a  journey to explore our universe like never before.

KANSAS CITY, MO --- Thursday evening over 130 guests filled the new Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium at Union Station to experience the latest in high-tech sight, sound and immersive programming.  With twin 4K projection, booming surround sound, new seating, lighting and a stunning ability to traverse through the mysteries of our universe, guests described their ribbon-cutting night as “the ultimate virtual reality.”

“The excitement and anticipation for our new technology has been palpable,” Jerry Baber, Union Station executive vice president and COO, said.  “Projection and program technology have changed so much since the Planetarium first opened. Think of the difference between the very first single-purpose mobile phones of 20 years ago and the amazing smart phones of today. It’s not even a close comparison. That’s the kind of difference that confronted us. And now the reality of taking such a huge leap forward literally has us retooling our own expectations on a massive scale.”

In the last six years, annual attendance at the Gottlieb Planetarium has more than doubled.  Because of that significant expression of interest from Kansas City, Station officials are confident this latest investment will pay off and satisfy growing demand and enthusiasm for many years to come.

Planetarium educators are now able to share the Midwest’s most detailed and clear 360-degree views of the cosmos normally invisible to the naked eye or limited through the lens of a telescope. The new system delivers 11-times the resolution, over 5-times higher contrast ratio and up to 3-times greater brightness than the previous projection system. With the click of a mouse, guests will be transported around the globe, into the tiniest particles, back to the age of dinosaurs and into real-time space via massive data sets sourced from international space and scientific institutions.

“If we sound excited and proud to bring this new experience to Kansas City and beyond, it’s because we really are,” Jeff Rosenblatt, Union Station Director of Exhibits, said. “Kansas City is a STEM community. Science matters and each day it drives a larger and larger part of our economy. When we refer to astronomy as the ‘Biggest Science,’ it’s because it’s inclusive and often the first spark that captures young imaginations and minds. It’s the stepping off point to a life-long love of science.”

With the high-tech transformation, the Science City education team now has the ability to create enhanced educational and interactive programs directly impacting STEM education in the region. The Planetarium’s entire existing show catalog and in-house programs have also been refreshed to full 4K resolution and available for private groups and public visitors.

“In a very real way, astronomy is the biggest science, bringing together other sciences and begging us to imagine, question and explore on a massive scale,” George Guastello, Union Station president and CEO, said. “And now, Union Station’s new Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium delivers that impressive science in a way inconceivable only a few short years ago. The universe is now within easy reach for everyone in our community. This is the all new Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium and we are on the world stage of planetariums with this huge leap forward in strategic technology and program investment.” 

That investment – part of the overarching Western Expansion Project at the Station – is a reflection of the strong support Union Station continues to enjoy communitywide.

“Within the context of our current $7.5 million Western Expansion Project, investments like this into the Planetarium are not possible without the generous and strategic support of community organizations and foundations,” Bob Regnier, Union Station Board Chair, said. “In this case, it was the visionary support of the Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation that originally helped open this unique venue in 1999, with additional support between 2009 and 2011 to expand programming and upgrade projectors. And now again, it is their investment in our Western Expansion Project – along with that from the Hall Family Foundation for science programming – that’s allowed us to create this new experience.”

Science education is a pillar of Union Station’s mission and they are moving in bold steps to deliver fascinating, world-class content to area students, families and groups of every kind. 

Starting tomorrow -- Saturday, Feb. 18th -- when guests journey thru the new space-themed lobby – conceived and built by the celebrated Lyric Opera design team -- and into the new Gottlieb Planetarium, they will be stepping into a truly stunning voyage that will leave powerful and lasting impressions. Then, in May, guests will enjoy full connectivity via a new space portal linking the new Haverty Family Yards, Science City indoor and Simple Machines outdoor spaces, the Planetarium, the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre and new entrepreneurial conference center.

General admission to the Gottlieb Planetarium for non-members is $7. New shows, “Phantom of the Universe” and “Magic Tree House: Space Mission,” debut Saturday. A new night sky show will begin March 11.

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About Union Station Kansas City, Inc.

Union Station Kansas City -- a 501(c)3 non-profit organization -- is a 100-year-old historical landmark and celebrated civic asset renovated and reopened to the public in 1999. The organization -- dedicated to science education, celebration of community and preservation of history -- is home to Kansas City’s Science Center; the new Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium; the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre; the popular Model Railroad Experience; H&R Block City Stage featuring live theater, and a selection of unique shops and restaurants. Union Station is also home to prominent area civic organizations and businesses, and regularly hosts world-class traveling exhibitions. Awarded “Top Banquet Facilities in KC” by KC Business Journal, the facility regularly hosts community events and private celebrations of all sizes. Visit www.unionstation.org for details. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


CURRENT PLANETARIUM SHOWS:

New: Magic Tree House - Space Mission

Travel with siblings Jack and Annie in their Magic Tree House as they discover a note that asks them to answer a series of six questions about space. With the help of the astronomer, the Internet, an astronaut, books and the writer of the mysterious note, Jack and Annie are taken on a wondrous journey of adventure and learning to the planets and far out into the Universe!

 

New: Phantom of the Universe

Featuring Academy Award winners Tilda Swinton and Skywalker Sound Studio, Phantom of the Universe showcases the exciting exploration of dark matter, from all the way back to the Big Bang, to recent discoveries at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. This brand-new show reveals dark matter's earliest clues, covering the astral choreography of galactic orbits as well as sensitive detectors hidden deep underground in ancient gold mines. Finally, take a first-person trip inside the world's largest particle accelerator at CERN to witness firsthand the forces that are illuminating this mysterious, invisible particle that fills our universe.

 

Big Bird’s Adventure – One World, One Sky

Through the lens of astronomy, children join Elmo, Big Bird and Hu Hu Zhu - a Muppet from the Chinese co-production of Sesame Street - on an adventure to the moon and to explore the night sky. One World, One Sky aims to provide young children in the U.S. and China with an age-appropriate introduction to astronomy, to promote positive attitudes toward science, and to foster cross-cultural appreciation.

 

Dinosaurs at Dusk

Dinosaurs at Dusk is a learning adventure of a father and his teenage daughter, Lucy, who share a fascination for all things that fly. You'll travel back in time to meet the pterosaurs and the ancestors of modern-day birds: the feathered dinosaurs. Lucy and her father navigate from continent to continent, looking for clues about the origins of flight. When time runs out they experience first-hand the cataclysmic "last day" of the dinosaurs.

 

Daily Shows and Times Can Be Found Here


PRESS RELEASE
February 17, 2017
Union Station Contact: Michael Tritt – C: 913.219.6890 | MTritt@UnionStation.org