Phase II Planetarium & Astronomy Center Underway

On the morning of May 23, 2023, the Stamford Museum & Nature Center officially broke ground on the Phase II Planetarium & Astronomy Center, joined by Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons and Senator Dick Blumenthal. Afterward, CEO Melissa H. Mulrooney and Michael Fedele, Co-Chair of The Campaign for Future Generations, shared the details of our long-range vision.

The 11,000-square-foot facility will reinvigorate a core pillar of the SM&NC’s Mission and bring our organization’s Planetarium and Observatory programs under the same roof for the first time in our 87-year history. Astronomy programming has long been a Mission signature ever since our first astronomy classes were held in 1941. They continue to this day, and will abound in the years to come.

Phase II Planetarium & Astronomy Center Underway

On the morning of May 23, 2023, the Stamford Museum & Nature Center officially broke ground on the Phase II Planetarium & Astronomy Center, joined by Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons and Senator Dick Blumenthal. Afterward, CEO Melissa H. Mulrooney and Michael Fedele, Co-Chair of The Campaign for Future Generations, shared the details of our long-range vision.

The 11,000-square-foot facility will reinvigorate a core pillar of the SM&NC’s Mission and bring our organization’s Planetarium and Observatory programs under the same roof for the first time in our 87-year history. Astronomy programming has long been a Mission signature ever since our first astronomy classes were held in 1941. They continue to this day, and will abound in the years to come.

Capital fundraising efforts for our Planetarium & Astronomy Center march on.

We are honored to be leading the Campaign for Future Generations. Our Phase I Knobloch Family Farmhouse complex illustrates the power of a public-private partnership with leadership gifts from individuals and companies, City of Stamford capital support, to the pacesetting investment from the State of Connecticut. The new Farmhouse complex opened November 1, 2018 and has become an extraordinary feature on Heckscher Farm.

The Astronomy Center will bring together our Planetarium and our new Observatory with state-of-the-art equipment for the first time in our history and present a comprehensive STEAM curriculum and dynamic public programming for all ages. This 10,600 square foot state-of-the-art complex features a 40-foot diameter Planetarium dome, a flat-floor 100-seat theatre with articulating seats, an Observatory with a motorized roll-back roof, open air deck, and a suite of telescopes with solar and lunar capabilities. In addition, there are two classrooms, scenic outdoor terraces, an elevator and ADA compliant facilities, a lobby gallery and gift shop.

The time to invest is now. We invite you to contribute to the Campaign for Future Generations, an endeavor that promises profound results — engaging, entertaining, and educating thousands of learners of all ages, as well as being an economic asset for the City of Stamford, our schools, and the State of Connecticut. The Stamford Museum & Nature Center has been a vital cultural and nature-based centerpiece for Stamford, Fairfield County, and the State for 87 years. Join with us and contribute to ensure that this exceptional resource will flourish for generations to come.

Your support will be gratefully received and deeply appreciated.

Carol and Michael Fedele

Campaign Leadership With Mayor
Stamford Mayor, Caroline Simmons, joins SM&NC CEO, Melissa H. Mulrooney; Board President, Harry Day; and Capital Campaign Co-Chairs, Michael & Carol Fedele, at the October 2022 extraction of our historic Gregory-Maksutov Telescope, now headed to Magdalena, NM for continued use in our new facility via remote, dark-sky joint viewing.

Phase II: Planetarium & Astronomy Center

A 100-seat planetarium theatre … an open-air, roll-back roof observation deck with lunar and solar telescopes … a lobby gallery … two school group and program classrooms … scenic outdoor terraces … an elevator and ADA compliant facilities … astronomy and technology offices … all accessed by a walk in the woods.

Our Phase II Planetarium & Astronomy Center (10,600 sf) combines the SM&NC Observatory with a full Planetarium auditorium to function as the center for STEAM education. Our physical science offerings will be expanded into a hands-on “learning lab” encompassing school programs, summer camp opportunities, public programs, adult enrichment, and family programs. This state-of the-art astronomy and science destination will be a powerful cultural and educational asset for the State of Connecticut and City of Stamford. Our enhanced science curriculum will support the State of Connecticut Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, enabling the SM&NC to continue as a distinguished regional leader in science education.

The Planetarium & Astronomy Center expands our astronomy and hands-on “learning labs” encompassing school programs, summer camp opportunities, public programs, adult enrichment, and family programs. We project 84% growth in multi-generational science, astronomy, and planetarium programs.

This Capital Project brings our Planetarium and Observatory programs together under one roof for the first time in our 87-year history.

We are keenly excited to serve as a profound nature and science-based resource for communities that long to have comprehensive Astronomy and STEAM-based programming in their own backyards.

Our Scientific Advisory Council

Distinguished Members from Across Science Community Sign On to Support SM&NC’s Development of its New Astronomy & Physical Science Center
Distinguished Members from Across Science Community Sign On to Support Development of SM&NC’s New Planetarium & Astronomy Center

In 2019, the Stamford Museum & Nature Center announced the formation of a Science Advisory Council created to guide the design and development of its new Planetarium & Astronomy Center.

The Council’s diverse membership is comprised of distinguished educational leaders and field experts:

  • Dr. Joel Adelberg, Superintendent, Bedford Central School District
  • Dr. Marcel Agüeros, Associate Professor of Astronomy, Columbia University
  • Dr. Stephon Alexander, Professor of Physics, Brown University, President, National Society of Black Physicists
  • Dr. Michael Alfano, Dean, College of Education, Sacred Heart University
  • Dr. Michele Baldini, VP, Head of Treasury Execution Trading Strategists, Goldman Sachs
  • Dr. Sarbani Basu, Chair of the Department of Astronomy, Yale University
  • Ms. Amy C. Beldotti, Associate Superintendent of Teaching & Learning, Stamford Public Schools
  • John W. Briggs, Director, The Astronomical Lyceum, Magdalena, New Mexico
  • Ira Flatow, Executive Producer & Host, Science Friday, Public Radio
  • Bart Fried, Founder & President, Antique Telescope Society; Vice-President, Amateur Astronomers Association, New York
  • Dr. Toni Jones, Superintendent, Greenwich Public Schools
  • Robert Morrow, Science Teacher, Convent of the Sacred Heart
  • Dr. Barrett Wells, Department Head and Professor of Physics, UCONN
  • Ex officio members: Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Jim Himes

What Will Happen Inside?

Planetarium Interior

  • Enriched School Programs: The Planetarium will accommodate larger groups for shows to increase in-school programs and greater competition with Discovery Museum and Hayden Planetarium for schools that are closer. Offering science and astronomy curricula adds new signature programming. The dedicated Science Lab brings physical science alive with What’s It Matter? and a Girls-Only STEAM Science Camp to bring STEAM-based physical science programming in areas of force and motion, energy, engineering, and astronomy.

  • Youth and Family Programs: Regular weekly planetarium shows on weekends and weekdays during summer and on school vacation weeks. STEAM-based on-site after-school programming, as well as family programs in the Science Lab. Expansion of astronomy nights and lectures with flexible dates to coincide with astronomical events. Friday night observatory nights would be increased by adding weekday evenings. Science-based birthday parties that would include use of large classroom, science-based, hands-on activities in the Lab, and tickets to planetarium program. We will be able to offer astronomy badges for Scouts programming and seasonal astronomy nights throughout the year.

  • Adult Programs: A large capacity (100-seat) Planetarium auditorium will enable expansion of new adult programming that enhances collaborative efforts to include book signings, author talks, lectures, and concerts. State-of-the-art multiple media technology will give us new opportunities to develop programs that are unique and sophisticated, drawing in a new audience to the SM&NC.

  • Community Collaborations & Facility Use: We have the ability to be a great community use auditorium presenting space for evening community group meetings, astronomy and even travel lectures. The Planetarium auditorium will be equipped with advanced technology for a variety of presentations and a regular schedule of astronomy and planetarium shows.

Phase II in the News

Moffly9.2023
Stamford Magazine: Buzz Status Report: Full Steam Ahead
Groundbreaking
HeyStamford.com: Stamford Museum and Nature Center Break Ground on New Planetarium & Astronomy Center
Patch1
New Planetarium & Astronomy Center Will Be ‘Game Changer’ For Stamford
Buzz
Stamford Magazine: Buzz Status Report: Star Sighting
Schematic images of the planned planetarium and astronomy center at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, expected to be completed in late 2024. (Photo courtesy of Stamford Museum & Nature Center)
Middletown Press: Old Stamford, Conn., Telescope Removed to Make Way for New Planetarium
Breunig1
John Breunig (opinion): Oh, the things this CT telescope has seen
Heystamford1
HeyStamford: Stamford Museum removes Telescope from Observatory, First Step in Construction of New Planetarium & Astronomy Center

Environmental, Social & Governance

The heart of our institutional Mission is teaching responsible environmental stewardship, which fortifies our role as a leading ESG business partner.

• We are laser focused on preserving greenspace with sound management of our 118-acre hardwood forest and working organic farm & garden, and planning for net-zero energy impact with capital building projects.

• Our social responsibility is well documented with annual audience service numbers of 200,000+ community participants, core curriculum-based school service, and distinguished leadership in inclusive experiential education

• Our rigorous, best-practice governance, executive leadership, and high-performance employee culture is reflected in innovative growth, transparent and balanced finances, community confidence, and philanthropic support.

Groundbreaking
Watch as HeyStamford.com brings us from last October’s telescope extraction into the future!

Schedule an Appointment to Learn More!

To schedule an appointment to hear more about The Campaign for Future Generations, please contact Liz Sabia, Capital Campaign and Executive Office Administrator, LSabia@stamfordmuseum.org or (203) 977-6545.

Phase One Recap: The Knobloch Family Farmhouse A gathering space for educational classes and cultural programming.

For the first time in over five decades, SM&NC has opened a brand new building – the Knobloch Family Farmhouse – with a prime focus on educational programming. The Knobloch Family Farmhouse is an immediate capacity-builder to develop a suite of new signature programs, with projected 58% growth in educational service in our first three years. The Farmhouse will be the first education building addition to the property in 50 years and will serve our highly successful SM&NC-Aligned-With-Our-Schools curriculum, family, camp, and adult enrichment programs at an iconic location overlooking the pastures of Heckscher Farm.

The Knobloch Family Farmhouse will be central hub and vital indoor gathering space to grow nature and agricultural experiential learning on-site in colder months. The Fedele Family Farmhouse Plaza creates a home base gathering space for the Explorers Full Day Camp to build upon 3rd-7th grade camp, which will have weekly day-trip components. We will accommodate expanded general scout programs with overnight programs added to our repertoire.

We will present workshops, lectures, and hands-on learning that enhances their knowledge and teaching skills modeled after Shelburne Farms, the Farm-Based Education Network (FBEN) conference, and Northeast Environmental Education Association (NEEEA) annual conference. Stamford is very well suited for this because of its central location between Boston and New York and its variety of accommodations for visitors.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Knobloch Family Farmhouse

Videos

Farmhouse Complex 2
Architectural Firm wins 2019 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Connecticut Design Award for Stamford Museum & Nature Center Knobloch Family Farmhouse

Architectural firm, TSKP Studio of Hartford Conn. has received a 2019 AIA Connecticut Design Award of Merit for their design of the Stamford Museum & Nature Center’s Knobloch Family Farmhouse, which opened less than a year ago in November 2018.

“We are incredibly proud of Whit Iglehart and the TSKP team for their extraordinary vision for our Knobloch Family Farmhouse,” said Melissa H. Mulrooney, Executive Director & CEO of SM&NC. “This highly functional Farmhouse complex blends effortlessly and elegantly into our forested landscape and the charm of our beloved Heckscher Farm.”

The Stamford Museum & Nature Center’s award-winning Farmhouse is the first new building to be constructed at the SM&NC in 50 years, and now provides educational spaces, visitor services, and a secondary entrance to the 118-acre site. The Farmhouse features a rustic multipurpose Great Room, professional Catering Kitchen, state-of-the-art audio visual system, and a 1,000 square foot Overlook Terrace cantilevered over the north pasture of the historic Heckscher Farm.

New construction also includes a Sugar House + Cidery, a redesigned 158-space lighted parking lot, and additional outdoor gathering spaces with the Farmhouse Plaza, Millstone Fountain, and an outdoor classroom called the Council Ring. To view a 360-degree virtual tour of the Knobloch Family Farmhouse, visit www.stamfordmuseum.org/venues.

Awards presented by AIA Connecticut celebrate the accomplishments of Connecticut architects and the excellence of Connecticut architectural projects. Recipients will be honored at an awards gala on December 9, 2019.

Sugar House + Cidery

Leadership

Capital Campaign Steering Committee

Michael & Carol Fedele
Capital Campaign Chairs

Harry Day
President, Board of Directors

Karen M. Kelly
Vice President, Board of Directors

Todd Wood
Board of Directors

Melissa H. Mulrooney
Chief Executive Officer

Board of Directors

Harry Day
President

Karen M. Kelly
Vice President

Douglas L. York, Ph.D*
Vice President

Kathleen DeCruze
Treasurer

Daniel L. Schwartz
Secretary

Sarah Bull
Maureen Cacace
Frank Cerasoli*
Lynn Villency Cohen
Lynne Colatrella
Mary Fedeli*
Tammy Felenstein
Keith Friedman
J. Todd Gambino
Jason C. Putter
Dr. Pauline Rauh
Jameson Riley
Robert Stoddard
Todd Wood

Founding Investors

The Honorable Ned Lamont, The Honorable Dannel P. Malloy and the State of Connecticut and the Department of Economic & Community Development
The Honorable Caroline Simmons, The Honorable David R. Martin and the City of Stamford
Aquarion Water Company • Frank and Kristen Cerasoli • Lynn Villency Cohen and Stephen A. Cohen • Harry Day and The Day Family Foundation • Kathleen and Thomas DeCruze • Carole and Joseph Dell’Aquila • The Honorable Michael and Carol Fedele • Mary Fedeli • Fidelity Foundation • First County Bank • First County Bank Foundation • Scott and Icy Frantz • Richard and Nancy Freedman • Gartner, Inc • Karen M. Kelly • Knobloch Family Foundation • Norman and Nina Lotstein • Frank and Maria Lovello • Stacey Bond Miller • Melissa H. Mulrooney • Sonja and Von Narcisse • OdysseyRe • Robert and Patricia Phillips • Dr. Pauline S. Rauh, Ed.D. • The Rogers Family Foundation • Katherine and Peter Sachs • Daniel and Zoe Schwartz • Arthur and Betsey Selkowitz • Marsha J. Shendell • Stamford Hospital Foundation • Transamerica • The Umbrella Club of Stamford • The Velaj Foundation •
With special thanks to the Elliot & Roslyn Jaffe Family for their enduring support of the Heckscher Farm Gathering Terrace.

Schedule an Appointment to Learn More!

To schedule an appointment to hear more about The Campaign for Future Generations, please contact Liz Sabia, Capital Campaign and Executive Office Administrator, LSabia@stamfordmuseum.org or (203) 977-6545.