Visitors line up to visit the James S. McDonnell Planetarium on its opening day, April 16, 1963.

The James S. McDonnell Planetarium marks its 58th birthday on April 16! When the Planetarium opened in 1963, the U.S. was in the midst of the space race, and there was a great deal of interest in learning about astronomy and the possibilities of space travel. It was named for the American aviation pioneer James McDonnell, founder of McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis, which designed the Mercury and Gemini space capsules and helped develop several aircrafts for the U.S. military.

During the Planetarium’s first year, admission was just 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children! More than half a century later, the Planetarium still serves as the gateway to the stars (and much more) for the people of St. Louis and beyond.

Check out the video above to learn more about the incredible design and construction process of the hyperbolic paraboloid Planetarium building!

Learn more about the star shows, exhibits and virtual offerings from McDonnell Planetarium!

McDonnell Planetarium