Asia's largest planetarium in Kolkata gets major makeover


12 May 2017

Kolkata's Birla Planetarium, Asia's largest, to open after two years

Kolkata's MP Birla Planetarium, established in 1962 and one of India's oldest, is opening its doors to the public after over two years of renovation.

Operations at Asia's largest planetarium, and the world's second largest, will restart from July.

Work on the makeover started in the end of 2014, after over half a century. The first public show was held on September 29, 1962.


Recorded shows to replace live lectures, digital projectors brought in

Recorded shows to replace live lectures, digital projectors brought in

Among one of many changes expected, live shows at the planetarium may be complemented or replaced by recorded ones.

The now-obsolete opto-mechanical projector, in use since the beginning, has been replaced by digital ones, which facilitate projection of moving pictures with a full-dome effect.

"Visitors will be able to submerge themselves in the setup," says S Dutta, curator of the planetarium.

Visitors in for a better, improved experience

The entire area has also been revamped. Toilets, seminar rooms, theatres as well as the garden have been overhauled for an improved experience. A new exhibition gallery is in the works. Seating has also been improved; this has cut capacity from 670 to 630.

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Will digitalization spell trouble for employees?

With the incoming of recorded shows, lecturers at the planetarium, who were till now narrating during the live shows, are unsure about their future.

"Whether they will train us to operate those machines or ask us to leave, I don't know," says Shanti Bose, 91, who has been there for 54 years.

However, they might be kept on for the courses the planetarium offers.

Revamp went beyond estimated deadlines and budget

The facelift, though completed satisfactorily, crossed initial deadlines and budgets. Initially, Rs. 25cr was earmarked for the project, which was expected to be done in a year. By the end, it cost Rs. 40cr, and remained shut for over two years, since March 2015.

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S Dutta

Shanti Bose

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