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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Flandrau Center to reopen

Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

On Saturday, after a nine-month hiatus, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium will once again open its doors to the public full time.

“”Time-wise, I think it just worked,”” said Hassan Hijazi, the director of external affairs for Biosphere 2. “”We can use the remainder of the semester and the summer in order to develop programs and make sure the public know we’re open again.””

The center was forced to close last June after 33 years of serving the Tucson and university community due to ongoing state budget cuts but will reopen in all capacities, including hosting regular planetarium shows, housing hands-on exhibits and demonstrations, as well as allowing visitors to use their 16-inch public viewing telescope, the largest telescope open to the public in southern Arizona.

“”I think this is a very important place and our community understands how important it is,”” said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the UA College of Science. “”At this university we’re lucky enough to have enormous assets to spread scientific knowledge and this place is one of those assets.””

Earlier this year, the UA College of Science was charged with running the Flandrau Science Center and all of its subsidiaries on campus, including the planetarium. The College of Science was able to reopen Flandrau by leveraging funds from the Biosphere 2, which the College of Science also took control of this year.

“”Philanthropy is making this happen,”” Ruiz said. “”This is an example of what philanthropy can do.””

The reorganization is partly for financial reasons, but, as Dean Ruiz says, there were equally numerous academic reasons for the reorganization.

Flandrau’s new role will be to serve as an on-campus nerve center for the university’s off-campus scientific outreach programs, including both the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter and the Biosphere 2.

“”Flandrau will now be able to serve as a portal we can use to send people out to our off-campus assets,”” Ruiz said. “”But it can also serve as a magnet to draw people in and attract them to what we have to offer.””

Ruiz stressed that, even though Flandrau is reopening, there are ongoing discussions for reorganizing and renovating the center.

“”Flandrau is certainly not as exquisite as it will be in the fall,”” Ruiz said, “”but we’re working on getting it ready.””

Beginning Saturday, the planetarium will be open every day of the week, offering a variety of planetarium shows as well as access to its current mineral show, entitled “”Treasures of the Queen,”” which features rare gems found in and around the Arizona town of Bisbee.

“”I hope there’s a mob there, I hope there’s excitement”” Ruiz said. “”Excitement from the community is what makes us do things like this.””

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