An observatory closed to the general public since 1999 will once again be available to local science buffs and curious novices alike. The Buffalo Museum of Science on Friday hosted a ceremony marking the re-opening of the Kellogg Observatory atop its building.
The newly restored observatory includes a new dome and first-time handicap access as well as the return of its vintage Lundin refractor, which had been removed in December 2016 for a restoration project.
"This was a lone process. This was a complex process. It was a process where we had so many pieces dependent on the successful completion of the part that came before," said Marisa Wigglesworth, president and chief executive officer of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. "To be at this day finally, with so many great partners from around the community and generous supporters, my colleagues and I just can't wait to share it with the community starting Saturday and Sunday."
The re-opening of the observatory brings an official end to the museum's See it Through campaign, a capital fundraiser that raised the funds to complete projects including the $1.2 million transformation of the space exhibit one floor beneath the observatory.
Joseph Lombardo, senior vice president at M&T Bank and a board member of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, told the audience that in his latter role, he has heard many others recall their memories of the observatory during childhood visits to the museum. His employer, he explained, has provided more than one million dollars for capital work on science studios, the museum's 3D cinema and other exhibits.
"As a native Western New Yorker, the science museum has always been a special place for me and my family. Despite the many times I visited here over the years, I still get a sense of wonder and excitement walking through the exhibit halls," Lombardo said. "Our community is truly blessed to have such a special, incredible cultural asset."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was among several elected officials who spoke of public commitments to the museum. He stated that since taking office, the City of Buffalo has committed $1.5 million to the museum for capital needs. And he told those in attendance that more is coming.
"Marisa, I am very proud to announce to you and everyone else today, by 2019 we will be providing at least another $900,000 in capital investment to the Museum of Science."
Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes, meanwhile, envisions the transformation of the museum into just one part of a broader revival of the Humboldt Parkway neighborhood. She pointed out that the state has committed dollars to reopen the building's original entrance and staircase leading down to what Frederick Law Olmsted earlier designed as park space.
"We're not going to ask or wonder why the parkway was taken out. We're just going to replace it," she said. "And while we're replacing it, we're going to get that front door entrance opened to the science museum. This community will be restored to what it should have always been."
Asking "why," in the meantime, will be the theme of a new informational campaign the museum is launching.
"Science is rooted in questions," Wigglesworth said. "Why? 'Why' transcends age and background. It's the question that has moved scientists through the ages. And we hope and believe it's the question our guests ask as they explore each of our science studios."