Many children growing up in Columbia in the 1950s through 1990s spent Saturday mornings sitting in the dark, enjoying an exciting planetarium show that educated and entertained. The planetarium, housed at the Columbia Museum of Art, closed in 1998 as the art museum prepared for its move to Main Street. When the S.C. State Museum was built, planetarium fans remembered and dreamed. And the dream is about to become a reality.

With support from SCE&G and other sponsors, the State Museum has launched its $23 million expansion and renovation project, Windows to New Worlds, which will transform the museum’s capacity to engage, educate and inspire visitors at its historic site in Columbia, across the state and beyond. Exciting new attractions will include a state-of-the-art observatory, a 55-foot digital dome planetarium and theater (the largest in the state), and an immersive 4-D theater. Stunning multimedia images, digital sound and laser light shows are only a few of the capabilities of the digital dome theater. Three-dimensional films will be enhanced with fourth-dimensional sensations such as blasts of air, water sprays and seat vibrations in the 4-D theater.

The project will add approximately 22,655 square feet to the museum’s home, the historic Columbia Mill building located on the Congaree River in downtown Columbia. Additionally, 47,500 square feet of the facility will be renovated, making room for a new front entrance and lobby, larger museum store, expanded catering capabilities, and increased meeting and professional development facilities.

The South Carolina State Museum, long described as “South Carolina under one roof,” is the largest and most comprehensive museum in the Southeastern United States, celebrating the Palmetto State’s art, natural history, cultural history, and science and technology.