The upgrade to the theater, the largest domed IMAX theater in North America, will also convert the projector from film to digital.
“This is a system that went into Liberty Science Center when we opened in 1993, and it’s terrific, but the world has gone digital and fewer new science films are being released in film format because it’s too expensive to do,” said Paul Hoffman, CEO and president of the center. “At the same time, we’re going to make it a dual use space, to it’ll also be the largest planetarium in the western hemisphere.”
The size of the dome, which covers 290 degrees, will provide visitors with a unique experience, Hoffman said.
The digital system will also allow the center to expand its offerings.
“We’ll be able to show any movie at all or connect to any conference in the world that we want,” Hoffman said. “If NASA is having a conference to introduce new images of Neptune or announce the finding of life on Mars, we’ll be able to connect them live.”
That also means changing the way the center engages with Jersey City.
“Jersey City is a place that’s really changed so rapidly,” he said. “I’ve just been here for four years at the helm of Liberty Science Center, but 20,000 people have moved here in that time, so we think there’s an opportunity for us to do … events like a planetary event in the evening.”
The $5 million donation was made by Jennifer Chalsty, a former high school teacher and board member at the Liberty Science Center since 2004.