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Vermont museum and planetarium plans first big expansion in 125 years

Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Photo by Nat Tripp

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (AP) – The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury is planning its first expansion in 125 years.

The plans call for a three-story, 6,000-square-foot addition of glass and wood framing. The addition would house space for modern, hands-on exhibits focused on meteorology and astronomy, and an elevator to provide access to the museum’s balcony.

If all the plans are carried out there would also be room for Community College of Vermont, which would have offices, a conference room, classrooms and other support spaces.

“We have this amazing, unbelievable historic structure that is tremendously problematic when it comes to accessibility,” Museum Executive Director Adam Kane tells the Caledonian Record. “And the public’s expectation is to have a science experience when you go to a science museum rather than just viewing things.”

Kane said current cost estimates range from $2.25 million to $2.5 million. The museum has received $600,000 in funding for part of the project. It’s awaiting word on a $2 million grant application.

More than a decade ago the museum developed plans for a larger addition, Kane said, but many of the museum’s needs were addressed in other ways.

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