Fairbanks Museum And Planetarium

Address: 1302 Main Street
Saint Johnsbury, VT 05819
Phone: 802-748-2372
Fax: 802-748-1893

The Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium is home to the first and only public planetarium in the state. Serving 15,000 visitors annually through programs for schools and the general public, it first opened in 1961 to stimulate interest in astronomy. The pursuit of this mission continues today through the Museum's ongoing astronomy programs, including an annual Astronomy Week and Star Party held each August.

The projector is the original Spitz model A-2 installed in 1961, with bench seating for 45 people under a 24-foot domed ceiling enhanced by sound and image systems. Immediately adjacent to the Planetarium is the Exhibit Hall, featuring displays on many aspects of astronomy and space travel, including the exploration of the Solar System, and a diorama of the Moon's surface and the Apollo Lunar Lander from 1969.

The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium is northern New England's premiere museum of natural history. The Museum was founded in 1889 by St. Johnsbury industrialist Franklin Fairbanks. A lifelong amateur naturalist, Fairbanks collected examples of nature's artistry and diversity throughout the world. His vast personal collections were first made accessible to the public in his "cabinet of curiosities" at Underclyffe, his elegant St. Johnsbury mansion. Fairbanks commissioned architect Lambert Packard to design a monumental structure in which to make his remarkable collections available for display and study. To this day, the collections of Franklin Fairbanks remain the backbone of northern New England's largest museum of natural history.

Crafted in the elegant Richardsonian Romanesque style, the Museum first opened its doors in 1891. At its dedication, Fairbanks set his museum on a distinctive course: "It is my expectation that studies in the natural sciences will be introduced into our public, common schools....In this way, the Museum will truly become a factor in the education of our children and young people. It is my desire that this institution take its place...as an educator of the young, lifting all who shall avail themselves of its advantages to a higher and larger knowledge concerning the things of God's creation." Today, the Museum's mission remains in harmony with the vision of Franklin Fairbanks: to "...inspire an appreciation and responsibility for our place in the natural world."

The Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is located on 3.0 acres in the heart of St. Johnsbury's Main Street Historical District. The Museum Main building's 21,500 square feet contains three floors of exhibits, the planetarium, the Northern New England Weather Center, a lecture room, a classroom/laboratory, administrative offices, and the Museum Shop. Two smaller buildings house the Douglas B. Kitchel Center for the Study of the Northeast Kingdom, the Fairbanks Archives Center, and offices.

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