If you've been to the Grout Museum in Waterloo, you may or may not know that there's a planetarium. The Norris Corson Family Planetarium was originally built in the 1950s and has had thousands of shows over the past 65 plus years. It's been a thrill for everyone that's ever been to one of these shows. But the museum knew it needed to upgrade its rather old and tired presentation, as fewer and fewer patrons attended the shows. After all, you can buy a ceiling starlight show on Amazon for under $40.

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Technology has come a long way since the last time the Grout made a change in the planetarium show. Before the pandemic, the museum and board of directors began fundraisers to remodel and revamp the planetarium with state-of-the-art equipment and projectors. They wanted to reinvest into the show and make it more than anyone may have dreamed it could be.

They did it.

COVID-19 and the shut-downs as well as the social distancing protocols allowed the Grout to continue its efforts in raising money AND shut down the planetarium for the remodel. It was all taken down to original walls, only, then rebuilt in a new way that would help the new computerized system make the show as realistic and awe-inspiring as can be.

Before renovation. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
Before renovation. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
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Beginning of remodel. Removing paint and bench seats. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
Beginning of remodeling. Removing paint and bench seats. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
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Fresh paint on the dome and new carpeting. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
Fresh paint on the dome and new carpeting. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
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The white dome was repainted a silvery color to help liven the digital colors, new carpet, sound system, and reclining chairs to help the viewer feel that they are in space.

Finished with new cushion reclining seats and state-of-the-art projector. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
Finished with new cushion reclining seats and state-of-the-art projector. Jacquie Persson - Grout Museum
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With over $200,000 invested in the renovations and purchasing of new technology, the universe is now available to anyone who buys a ticket. The Gazette writes, "Today’s visitors can see Earth’s horizon, the moon, and the stars hither and yon, all to lively narration from staff members like John Nicol. From the very beginning, I knew my star guide had been a theater major in college. He was so lively and animated, punching up the fun in the fundamentals of what was happening overhead." - Arts and Entertainment Writer Diana Nollen

Diana didn't want to give away everything you can experience, so she wrote more about what went into the renovations and reopening of the Norris Corson Family Planetarium. It's a must-see for the whole family. For pricing and showtimes, click Groutmuseum.org and plan a trip into space, on Earth!

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