Bell Museum of Natural History breaks ground on new facility with planetarium

Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History has broken ground on a new US$79.2m (€69m, £54.7m) complex near the State Fairgrounds on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus.

To be renamed the Bell Museum and Planetarium, a 120-seat domed planetarium and theatre will be one of the main new features, in addition to expanded galleries and a host of interactive exhibitions.

Minneapolis-based architecture firm Perkins+Will have created the box structure, which will be partially clad in white pine and weathering steel. An atrium is also included and will be fitted with etched glass to prevent birds from crashing into the building. The environmentally-friendly development will be landscaped with native trees and plants, while rainwater ponds will be included, as will a pollinator garden for the museum’s bees. McGough Construction Co are the project contractors.

The Minnesota Legislature has provided US$51.5m (€44.8m, £35.6m) towards the US$64.2m (€56m, £44.4m) construction and landscaping costs, with a further US$6.7m (€5.8m, £4.6m) contributed by the university and US$6m (€5.2m, £4.2m) coming from private donations.

The museum is seeking a further US$15m (€13m, £10.4m) for programme support, future endowment, technology upgrades, a 1,500sq ft (139sq m) expansion for temporary exhibition galleries and outdoor learning centres.

The new planetarium comes as part of a merger with the Minnesota Planetarium Society in 2011. The society, which was previously located at the Minneapolis Central Library, will move into its new home when complete.

The museum will close its current doors on 2 January 2017, before reopening in August 2018.

Bell Museum + Planetarium  Museum  Planetarium  Gallery  History  Minnesota  University of Minnesota 
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Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History has broken ground on a new US$79.2m (€69m, £54.7m) complex near the State Fairgrounds on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. To be renamed the Bell Museum and Planetarium, a 120-seat domed planetarium and theatre will be one of the main new features, in addition to expanded galleries and a host of interactive exhibitions. Minneapolis-based architecture firm Perkins+Will have created the box structure, which
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Minneapolis-based architecture firm Perkins+Will have created the box structure, which will be partially clad in white pine and weathering steel
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