July 5, 2008

$20 Million Campaign to Fund Renovations to Space Theater, New Interactive Exhibits and Expanded Education Programs

SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 3, 2008—The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center today announced “Creating Possibilities, Inspiring Tomorrow,” a $20 million capital campaign to advance the non-profit organization’s mission to inspire lifelong learning by furthering the public understanding and enjoyment of science and technology.

Representing the largest fundraising effort undertaken by the Fleet Science Center since its opening more than 35 years ago, “Creating Possibilities, Inspiring Tomorrow” will fund extensive renovations and upgrades to the Space Theater, a digital video production studio, expanded education programs and facilities, new hands-on science exhibitions, and greater long-term financial security by strengthening the organization’s endowment.

“In San Diego and around the world we’ve witnessed a tremendous growth in all areas of science and technology, growth that has led to changes that profoundly affect our daily lives,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kirsch, Executive Director of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.  “Now more than ever, it’s important for the public to understand these changes and for children to embrace science at an early age. The goals we’ve laid out in this campaign will allow us to meet these challenges and inspire future generations of scientists and engineers.”

Projects funded by the “Creating Possibilities, Inspiring Tomorrow” campaign will be organized into three phases, with Phase I projects scheduled to commence this fall.  Phase I projects include upgrades to the Fleet Science Center’s Space Theater, new and upgraded exhibits and expanded education programs.

New Space Theater
After 35 years of engaging planetarium shows, more than 100 IMAX titles and nearly 400,000 miles of IMAX film, the Fleet Science Center’s IMAX Dome Theater—also known as the Space Theater—stands ready to receive a complete makeover.  “Creating Possibilities, Inspiring Tomorrow” will transform the world’s first IMAX Dome Theater into the most technologically-advanced facility of its kind. The Fleet Science Center will be the first IMAX Dome Theater to show films on a seamless “NanoSeam” screen, allowing for sharper colors and brighter, higher-contrast images. A new, specially-designed digital surround sound system, more comfortable seating, upgrades to the IMAX projection system and numerous other improvements will also be installed as part of this fall’s Phase I renovation.

Starting in mid- to late-2009, Phase II projects include the installation of a state-of-the-art, full-dome digital projection system that will augment the existing IMAX projector. The full-dome video projection technology will take the Fleet Science Center’s popular planetarium shows to a new level, featuring stunningly immersive visuals and incredibly realistic simulations of cosmic phenomena. In addition to planetarium shows, the new digital dome will allow the Fleet Science Center to present other high-definition multimedia video productions that explore scientific topics as well as entertain with music visualizations, children’s programming and much more.

Phase III will place the Fleet Science Center at the forefront of digital video production, with a digital production studio that will develop educational content with the cooperation of multiple institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Salk Institute and others. Shows produced will use scientific data collected and interpreted from partner institutions to take the public on extraordinary immersive journeys—inside the Space Theater—into a human stem cell, an atomic nucleus or virtually any environment imaginable.  Moreover, local scientists, students and artists will be invited to use the Fleet Science Center’s digital projection technology to present data and other visualizations on the giant tilted-dome screen.

Interactive Exhibits and Educational Programs
“Creating Possibilities, Inspiring Tomorrow” will also fund entirely new hands-on exhibits for the Fleet Science Center’s permanent collection, major upgrades to the highly-popular “Kid City” exhibition for preschool-age children, and new traveling exhibitions. In addition to new exhibits, the Fleet Science Center’s education and outreach programs will also benefit from the campaign, with new resources devoted to the organization’s inquiry-based teacher training programs, “suitcase science” public outreach programs and on-site classrooms for visiting school groups.

Campaign funding will also enable major renovations and technology upgrades to the space-themed Nierman Challenger Learning Center.  In the 15 years since it opened, more than 100,000 students and teachers have experienced the thrill, strategy and teamwork involved in human spaceflight at this unique educational facility, consisting of a NASA-inspired Mission Control, Space Station simulator & mission briefing room.

“Creating Possibilities, Inspiring Tomorrow” will also fund general operations and provide greater financial security by strengthening the Fleet Science Center’s endowment.  The endowment provides a reliable source of income through periods of economic uncertainty, allowing the organization to more effectively carry out its educational mission.

Based on a strategic plan that was unanimously approved in November 2005 by the Fleet Science Center’s board of trustees—then led by Board President Dr. Martha Dennis and now led by Board President Dr. Chuck Wheatley–the campaign has already raised more than $11 million from approximately 50 donors.  The campaign is chaired by Fleet trustee Lori Fleet-Martin, with the assistance of committee members and Fleet trustees Carol Chang, Patricia Carter, Joseph Cohen, JoEllen Parsons, Maurice Sabado, Margie Warner and Dr. James Whitesell.

Additional information regarding “Creating Possibilities, Inspiring Tomorrow,” including project components and timelines will be announced later this summer.

About the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
With exhibits to touch, IMAX® films to watch and motion simulator rides to experience, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (“the Fleet”) offers an educational, entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.  Located at 1875 El Prado, two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd, the Fleet is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the public understanding and enjoyment of science and technology. For information regarding current admission prices, please call (619) 238-1233 or visit our Web site at

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