The museum recently announced that it received an $800,000 grant from The Wege Foundation to help upgrade the technology, seating, design and display in the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. Efforts continue to raise the rest of the money for the project.
Work on the planetarium is expected to wrap up in early 2014, and the upgrade will allow for new, high-definition programming to be shown and other programming to be developed.
"These upgrades are vital, and through this gift, we are able to begin the renovation project," said Dale Robertson, the museum's president and CEO. "This new technology opens up doors to new partnerships and possibilities for both the museum and the community."
Since it was built in 1994, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the museum's Van Andel Museum Center has averaged 60,000 visitors annually. Many school groups visit the planetarium, which offers programming including sky shows, laser light shows and concerts.
The Wege Foundation is led by philanthropist Peter Wege, former CEO of Steelcase Inc.