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County funding to allow for improved access to science museum observatory

Matt Neidhart/WBFO News

Humans have gazed at space since the dawn of time and the Buffalo Museum of Science hopes to, one day, once again allow visitors to be able to look up at the stars.

As part of a comprehensive capital improvement blueprint, crews will renovate stairwells and install an elevator to improve access to the museum's fourth floor and its rooftop observatory.  The observatory has not been opened to the public in 17 years.

Officials announced Monday Erie County is providing a $500,000 grant for this phase of the renovations. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said once the observatory reopens, visitors will be able to see the many wonders of the galaxy.

“We’re going to be removing a spiral staircase that is, right now, the primary access point from our fourth floor up to the roof and adding an elevator, which will stop not only at the floor level, but about five feet above that, a second stop at the level of the observatory,” said Marisa Wigglesworth, president and CEO of the museum.

Poloncarz says once the observatory eventually reopens, visitors will be able to see the many wonders of the galaxy.

“This is a project that can enrich people’s lives,” said Poloncarz. “If you’ve never looked through a telescope and seen the planet Saturn you’re amazed the first time you see it. If you’ve never looked through a telescope and seen the king of the planets, Jupiter with its four Jovian moons, you’re amazed that that’s actually the planet Jupiter.”

Poloncarz says astronomy is a passion of his and the project is important to him. The funding comes from a bond resolution approved by county legislators. The project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

The observatory has been closed to the public since 1999. The museum has been raising funds for the

Credit Matt Neidhart

observatory renovation in its $8.2 million “See It Through” campaign.