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Salt Lake County Announces $2 Million Update at Clark Planetarium

The county-owned facility is open 7 days per week and includes many free activities as well as food and a learning store.
Bob Nelson
Clark Planetarium at the Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake County announced plans Thursday for a $2,000,000 dollar update of the free public exhibits at the Clark Planetarium at the Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City.

“Clark Planetarium’s mission is to create a sense of wonder about the universe around us and inspire people to pay more attention to the science in their everyday lives, especially through learning about astronomy and space exploration.”

That’s Seth Jarvis, the planetarium’s director. Jarvis says the planned renovations are inspired by what science has already proven about humans. He says genetics is the first predictor of how well a child does.

“The second most important thing that determines how well a child will do in school are the informal educational experiences that they design for themselves or that their family helps them design,” says Jarvis.

The project is still in the planning stages. Joseph Wisne is president of the exhibit design firm Roto Group LLC. He says new technology allows people to participate in planetarium activities in ways that haven’t been possible until now.

“The human body is very capable of multi-sensory exploration. I want to harness that skill among all the visitors,” says Wisne.

The renovations are expected to be completed by late summer of 2016. Most of the funding for the latest project comes from the Tourism, Recreation, Cultural and Conventions Fund. It’s a portion of the sales taxes paid by Salt Lake City visitors. Salt Lake County pays about a third of the facilities overall operating costs.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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