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MKAEC's exhibition planning gets underway

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Date: Monday, April 15, 2002
Contact: George Jacob, (808) 933-3917

For Immediate Release

Concept rendering for an immersive object theater experience at MKAEC

Moving deftly forward, the University of Hawai`i at Hilo's Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center (MKAEC) project director recently secured the release of $3.891 million in federal educational earmarks to commence work on 26,000 square-feet of exhibition planning and gallery design that will provide the functional basis for facilities planning. Additional funds of $8 million for the first phase of construction will be released later this year.

To be located on a 9.1-acre lot in UH Hilo's University Park of Science and Technology, the $28 million, 42,000 square-foot MKAEC will be a world-class interpretive center, which will include gallery space, a planetarium with omni-projection capabilities, and cutting edge exhibitry to showcase the uniting of science and culture in an immersive experience like no other.

The work on interpretive planning, with 24 members of the Big Island community serving as content advisors, had commenced last November with UH Hilo professors Dr. Michael West and Larry Kimura overseeing the Astronomy and Hawaiian Content development process. The five thematic treatment areas embrace Hawaiian Heritage, History of Astronomy, Popular Astronomy, Advanced Astronomy and Space Exploration.

"Set in the cultural context of Hawai`i's unique heritage, the Center will elevate knowledge and appreciation toward exploration, perseverance, teamwork and ingenuity pursued by space engineers, astronauts, and contemporary astronomers who have ventured to voyage among the stars to find their origins, explore life and seek a continuum with the spirit of navigation pursued by early Polynesians," explained Project Director George Jacob.

Seven teams will engage concurrently, working in close cooperation to take this project to its fruition by late 2004. While a research team works on Content Development and Interpretive Planning, the Exhibition Design team will focus on concepts, schematics, fabrication and installation details. A separate effort will coordinate the architectural design and construction, estimated to cost $15 million. The time line is indeed ambitious.

"We are in the willful act of conceiving a cradle of education that breathes life to a creative process of inspired thinking -- an institution that infuses a sense of place and an acknowledgment of history," said Jacob in explaining his vision that echoes Senator Daniel Inouye's efforts in making this endeavor a reality.

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