JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The first round of work on a major renovation project at the Russell C. Davis Planetarium could get underway in a matter of weeks.
Jackson is planning to make $12 million in improvements at the facility this year, marking the first major renovation at the site in more than four decades.
Recently, the city has awarded a bid for interior demolition, which is needed before the renovations can take place.
“This gets us ready for the full project. It gives us a blank slate on the inside and helps us better understand how the building was built,” David Lewis, deputy director of Human and Cultural Services said.
“We’re doing this major renovation and we hope (this) can answer questions the architect has about the building, so we can address all the issues … the best we can.”
Plans were drawn up by CDFL Architects.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba announced the plans last year. The domed tourist facility has been closed since 2018, due to damage from a previous hailstorm.
Lewis hopes the renovations in earnest can get under way this year.
Work includes redoing the third-floor exhibit space, as well as installing new seating and new lighting, and re-working the restroom facilities, Lewis said.
New exhibits are also on tap, to replace the ones that were last updated during the days of the space shuttle.
Meanwhile, the second floor will be gutted and redesigned for use as an adaptive learning space, while a new atrium will be built on the first floor to better connect the planetarium with the Mississippi Arts Center.
The project is expected to cost around $12 million and will be completed in phases, as funding allows.
So far, about $5.5 million has been committed to the project, which includes city and state dollars, as well as other grants.
Lewis said he expects the next capital campaign to be kicked off soon.
“We’re putting the final touches on it,” he said. “We need about $12 million. We hope to raise $14 million, which includes (an) operational endowment.”