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From the website
The planetarium was made possible by the voluntary contributions of the many sponsors of the Flint College and Cultural Development. Important, too, was the work of the officers and members of the Flint Board of Education who together planned and developed the planetarium project.
With Mr. Longway breaking ground, construction of the planetarium began on April 9, 1957. Roughly fourteen months later, the building was completed at a cost of approximately $600,000. On June 26, 1958, the planetarium was formally dedicated and opened to the public for the first time. Regular planetarium shows commenced on June 29, 1958.
The Robert T. Longway Planetarium is one of the largest and best equipped in the country. Designed by the Detroit architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, the structure consists of steel-reinforced concrete, measures 88 feet in diameter and 40 feet in height. The inner dome, which houses the projector, is 60 feet in diameter. There were originally 292 seats. The inner dome is constructed of thin strips of perforated aluminum attached to a geodesic dome super- structure and serves as the screen for the planetarium projector.
The planetarium was designed to catch the viewers’ eye both inside and out. The waterproof surface coating on the outer dome contained Carborundum chips which sparkled in the sunlight or when spotlights were fixed on the dome at night. The reflecting pool, which adjoined the planetarium, contained a dozen spray jets. Colored lights played on the sprays at night. By looking into the pool, one could see the dome and its reflection formed a complete sphere.
In the early 1960s, to alleviate water infiltration issues, the outer dome was recovered in the now familiar turquoise panels. In the 2000’s the reflecting pond and fountains were removed due to severe degradation of the concrete structure and to make way for the expansion of the Flint Institute of Arts.
Inside the building between the bases of the two domes is a 10-foot wide circular corridor or “ambulatory.” The outer wall of the ambulatory is lined with two 55-foot murals of astronomical subjects. The murals are done in luminescent paint on black canvas and glow under ultra-violet lights to give the viewer the feeling of looking off into space. New versions of the Solar System and Constellation murals were completed in 2001 by Michael Carroll. On the inside wall of the ambulatory, set in display cases were a series of three-dimensional models and photographs that illustrate astronomical principles and discoveries.