Plus: Major upgrades have been made to the Buhl Planetarium.

By Jason Phox

Photo: A figure of Daisy Lampkin, plus a model of her Hill District home was added to this year’s railroad model. Courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

Carnegie Science Center officials have revealed Buhl Planetarium‘s new capabilities. The planetarium reopened Nov. 21, after finishing the first phase of its multimillion-dollar renovation, but due to COVID-19, was temporarily closed through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2020. Be sure to check the Carnegie Science Center website for the latest operating hours.

“We’re bringing the country’s fifth-oldest planetarium into the future through state-of-the-art technical equipment upgrades,” said  Jason Brown, Henry Buhl, Jr., Director of Carnegie Science Center. According to a press release, planetarium upgrades include a switch from 4K to 8K resolution on its projectors and improved accessibility for people with hearing and visual impairments, such as assistive listening devices and closed captioning devices.

“Buhl Planetarium has an established legacy of transporting millions of visitors to the far reaches of our galaxy. With the upgrades, the world’s leading digital planetarium system will provide an entirely new experience, solidifying Buhl Planetarium as the region’s leader in informal astronomy education and amateur space exploration,” Brown said in a press release. The planetarium will soon begin a second phase of fundraising for new seats and carpeting.

A figure of Daisy Lampkin, a key player in the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements, has been added to this year’s Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center. In 1945, Lampkin won the NAACP National Woman of the Year award. She died in 1965 at the age of 78. Photo courtesy of the Charles “Teenie” Harris archive at the Carnegie Museum of Art

In addition to announcing planetarium updates, Science Center officials have unveiled plans for their latest model in the Miniature Railroad & Village, which Brown described in a press release a “cherished Pittsburgh tradition with a 100-year legacy.”

This year’s model celebrates the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A figure of Daisy Lampkin, a Pittsburgh icon and key player in the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements, plus a model of her Hill District home was added to the railroad model.


Lampkin was, according to a press release, “the first woman and second longest tenured NAACP executive.” In 1945, she won the NAACP National Woman of the Year award for her efforts to build the “largest membership enrollment in NAACP history.” Lampkin died in 1965, at the age of 78.

The Carnegie Science Center’s exhibit website says the Miniature Railroad & Village started in 1919 as a personal holiday display of Charles Bowdish, former resident of Brookville, PA. It was transported to the Buhl Planetarium in 1954, then finally to the Science Center in 1992. The Miniature Railroad & Village features “realistic animated scenes” that “illustrate how people lived, worked, and played in our region before 1940.”

For more information on the Buhl Planetarium, click here. To read more about the miniature railroad, click here.

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