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Media Release

Published: 06/15/2007

Lodestar Astronomy Center becomes Museum property

 

Albuquerque – The Board of Trustees of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science voted to accept the transfer of the Lodestar Astronomy Center from the University of New Mexico to the Museum. Effective July 1, 2007, this transfer ushers in a new era of collaboration and cooperation between the Museum and UNM. The change of ownership and operations management will lead to a breakthrough in the profitability of the astronomy center while maintaining the highest levels of audience satisfaction and providing continued access to the world-class facility for UNM students and researchers.

“We are very excited to see this happen at this point in time," says Dr. Adrian Hunt. “The ability to manage all of the operations within the institution will give us the flexibility to adjust programming of the astronomy center to meet the interests of the public in a cost-effective and efficient manner. This is truly a win-win situation for the Museum and UNM.”

UNM will retain free use of the center for research and educational programs for five years, with an option to renew for another five years. The move is expected to save the university several hundred thousand dollars a year. Incorporating the management of the astronomy center into the current administrative structure of the Museum will not incur a significant increase in operating costs for the Museum.

Located inside the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, the LodeStar Astronomy Center was built with a state appropriation and a grant from the U.S. Air Force and opened in December 1999. The center includes a planetarium, interactive astronomy exhibits, observatory and a motion simulation theater.

Gary Friedman, President of the Museum Board of Trustees has said, "I am very pleased that the Museum and UNM have been able to work together to reach an agreement for the transfer of the Lodestar Astronomy Center. This new arrangement will allow for improved efficiency in the operations of the Astronomy Center and is mutually beneficial to both the Museum and UNM."

The changeover from UNM management to Museum management will see some significant programming changes in the coming months. The Virtual Voyages simulator ride will be decommissioned and removed and the programming will become more student and classroom oriented during the public operation periods. In addition, the Museum is interested in updating the current astronomy exhibits and integrating them more fully into the Museum’s ‘Walk Through Time’ exhibit storyline. 

"The Lodestar Astronomy Center was a welcome addition to our state's most visited museum when it opened its doors in 1999," said Cultural Affairs Secretary Stuart Ashman. "Now, as the center's attractive exhibits and programs move under the Cultural Affairs umbrella, I expect Lodestar will continue to be an important draw for visitors to the Natural History Museum."

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is located at 1801 Mountain Road NW in Old Town Albuquerque and is open daily from 9-5 except non-holiday Mondays in September. Museum admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children ages 3-12.

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