Columbus will help pay to hang the moon and stars at COSI Columbus' new planetarium as part of a $1.1 million public package to make improvements to the popular science center.
Columbus will help pay to hang the moon and stars at COSI Columbus’ new planetarium as part of a $1.1 million public package to make improvements to the popular science center.
The Columbus City Council recently approved the money that will also help fund, among other things, new carpet, a sound system and more wheelchair-accessible ramps.
The city is using capital bond money approved by voters. Income-tax dollars are used to pay off the bonds.
The city owns the building on W. Broad Street that houses COSI and is responsible for much of the physical improvements, said Alan McKnight, the city’s director of recreation and parks.
About $370,000 will go toward updating the planetarium, which has been shuttered for a decade. COSI officials closed the exhibit for budget reasons in 2004 after voters overwhelmingly rejected a service levy.
“There is also money for new kitchen equipment and a few minor other things outside the building,” McKnight said.
COSI officials said this year that they were trying to raise about $1 million to reopen the planetarium and install new digital equipment. City officials said the public contribution will meet that goal.
“The planetarium was basically mothballed, and it’s not in bad shape,” said COSI spokeswoman Jaclyn Reynolds.
It’s expected that the planetarium, which seats 221 people under a nearly 60-foot dome, will reopen some time this fall, Reynolds said.
COSI officials said other than astronomy, possible exhibits could include underwater volcanoes and a virtual tour of the human heart.
Much of the renovation will be completed while COSI is shut down Sept. 2-19 for its annual cleaning.
COSI’s finances have improved over the past decade, and the museum ended its latest fiscal year with a balanced $17 million budget.
About 98 percent of revenue comes from admission fees and private contributions. About 2 percent comes from government contributions, according to the latest tax forms for COSI on file with the Internal Revenue Service.
About half its operating budget goes toward the salaries of the nearly 300 full-time employees. COSI also operates with the help of about 9,500 volunteers.