Sunday, July 4, 2010

Next Project For Evansville's Museum: A Solar Dome

Thanks to the dedication of Evansville Museum director John Streetman and the Evansville Museum board, the 104-year old museum will be receiving a facelift in the coming months. With the theme " Reaching For The Stars," the addition is expected to be complete in the fall of 2010. The new addition will have a plaza, a pavilion, and a theatre dedicated to astronomy, history, science, and arts.

It's been quite some time since there has been something new, and it's got me thinking: What else could the museum add in the future that would signifactantly increase it's notoriety. Everytime I think about the museum needs one thing comes to mind, a solar dome.

With all of the recent additions focusing on the planets around us, a solar dome would fit the museums profile perfectly. It would also satisfy the needs of Evansville, which has great solar energy potential as well as a need to find an alternative fuel.

So what would a solar dome have in it and where would it be? Well first of all, the museum and the city of Evansville could go in two different directions for the design depending on what the city needs in the future. If there is a potential minor league football team, a possible downtown mega high school, and/or a need for a multi-purpose facility, then the facility should be big enough to house both the museum's exhibits as well as room for a football field. More than likely though, only a dome that would house the museum's exhibits will probably be necessary.

When looking at other science center domes, the one that comes to my mind is the St.Louis Science Center right outside of downtown St. Louis ( That science center is VERY similar to Evansville's. It has a planetarium, a discovery room, a science lab, and an OMNIMAX Theater. It also has many traveling exhibits.

So what could the Evansville Museum do to make its dome better than St.Louis's dome. My suggestion is this: Use it for electricity as well. As I said earlier, Evansville has great potential to generate solar power. When the Unified Electric Smart Grid comes online in a few years, the city could sell this power to anywhere in the U.S. When Vectren needs to raise rates even higher than what they are now, Evansville is going to wish that it had done more for solar power. This would be the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Install solar panels on top of the dome and use the money to fund the museums other projects at the same time.

Where could the dome be placed? In my opinion, the dome should be placed either behind EMTRAC or on the Sunset Park block just east of EMTRAC. Either one of these locations would be perfect for the solar dome. The only downside is that parking spaces would be eliminated (yet another reason for Personal Rapid Transit)which would have to be factored in. If need be, I believe that more parking could be added across Waterworks road.

If you think about it, a solar dome could do a lot of good things for the city. It could lower electricity costs, provide more funds for the museum, and even add another unique landmark to the Evansville skyline. Now is the time to build the Solar Dome!

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