Igniting and sustaining lifelong science and technology learning
The roots of the Saint Louis Science Center go back. Way back. The Academy of Science of Saint Louis was founded in 1856, as the first scientific organization west of the Mississippi River. The Academy founded the Museum of Science and Natural History in 1959 and moved to Clayton's Oak Knoll Park. When the Metropolitan Zoological Park & Museum District (ZMD) was formed in 1971, the Museum of Science and Natural History became a member of the ZMD, independent from the Academy, which continues to operate as a separate entity to this day.
The Museum then outgrew the facilities at Oak Knoll Park in the mid-1980s. In 1984, the museum acquired the James S. McDonnell Planetarium from the City of St. Louis. After a $3.2 million renovation, the building reopened July 20, 1985, as the Saint Louis Science Center.
Following a $34 million expansion to construct the current main building off of Oakland Avenue, the Science Center opened November 2, 1991, in its larger footprint. On February 8, 1997, the Science Center added the EXPLORADOME, an air-supported building just west of the Oakland Avenue building, in order to provide additional space for large traveling exhibitions, to better accommodate school groups and to have space available for facility rentals and community activities.
In July 2010, the Science Center broke ground on the addition of a new exhibition hall. With 13,000 square feet of additional space, the new Boeing Hall features a rooftop terrace and provides 12,000 square feet of permanent public exhibit space –- a long term replacement for the air-supported EXPLORADOME. Boeing Hall opened to the public on October 28th, 2011, with the Star Trek Exhibition as its inaugural traveling exhibition.
Throughout 2013, the Science Center is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. Since the James S. McDonnell Planetarium’s doors opened on April 16, 1963, more than 18 million people have experienced a connection with astronomy, space exploration and aviation through a visit to this iconic structure. Special anniversary events are scheduled to take place throughout the year.