16 April 2008

Griffith Observatory’s Magical Makeover

I wrote this article for Exhibit Builder, which published it in early 2008. It has now been reprinted on Blooloop.com:

On November 3, 2006, Griffith Observatory reopened after a successful redo of the entire facility, a four-year, $93 million project. First opened in 1935, it was the fulfillment of Griffith J. Griffith’s vision of a public scientific and educational institution. Griffith Observatory has stood as a national leader in public astronomy education, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of Southern California's most popular attractions. Griffith Observatory is also a well-known visual and cultural icon of Los Angeles. Its elegant triple dome, crowning Mount Hollywood, has popped up in numerous films over the decades, including Rebel Without a Cause and The Terminator. The Observatory has been called the “Hood Ornament of Los Angeles.”

But even an institution so well conceived that its exhibits capture the public interest for 70 years eventually needs an update. By the time it closed for the makeover, the many original 1930s exhibits that had been retained through the decades were very well worn - by the roughly 70 million visitors who had passed through Griffith’s doors. Griffith Observatory was in need of rejuvenation – but wisely chose a course that would preserve everything that was loved and admired about the original while at the same time bringing the institution into the present and preparing it for the future.... [click the title link to read the full article and see pictures]