Celebrating 55 Years of Bringing Impactful Space Science to British Columbia and Beyond

As a not-for-profit organization with a mission to create an accessible environment where all members of the community can come together and learn about space science, we are delighted to be celebrating a significant milestone.

This month marks the 55th anniversary of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, and we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our long history of inspiring exploration and creating experiences of wonder for people of all ages in Vancouver and beyond.

A Brief History of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre

The Space Centre, better known to many as the Planetarium, was originally a gift to the Vancouver community from the philanthropist H.R. MacMillan in October of 1968. Over more than half a century in existence, the beloved Space Centre has evolved from a mere museum and theatre into a vibrant community hub that offers exciting public lectures and events, exhibits, and programs that bridge culture, arts, and science.

Increasing In-Person Attendance for Exhibits, Programs, and Community Events

The breadth and variety of programming we offer have steadily grown over the years, and so too has the interest from the public. The Space Centre welcomed over 140,000 visitors in 2019, with over 24,000 people from community or school groups. Our community outreach programs have also made a significant impact, reaching tens of thousands in the Lower Mainland.

We are proud to offer exciting learning opportunities for all ages, including programs for adults. Our popular Cosmic Nights series for adults 19 and over is an opportunity to socialize over drinks while enjoying a deep dive into astronomy topics. These evenings include custom planetarium shows, guest lectures, and science demonstrations. If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, we also offer family nights for ages 8 and up.

Pivoting to Provide Impactful Online Programming

The COVID-19 pandemic caused us to re-evaluate how we can best serve the community. Although there was a temporary dip in in-person visits for obvious reasons during the pandemic, we took the opportunity to reimagine how we could continue to provide fun and educational programs related to space exploration without being confined by the walls of our buildings.

We offered free E-resources on our website and a popular Ask an Astronomer show on YouTube. We also created online school programs that allowed students to continue exploring space science from the comfort of home. Even when things returned to normal after the pandemic, we decided to continue offering our online programming due to popular demand. These programs make the fascinating wonder of space accessible to learners outside of the Lower Mainland and beyond.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Collaboration and Innovative Programming

The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre dreams of a world filled with open-minded people who embrace their differences and are united through a deep sense of shared humanity. The pandemic made many of us realize how important it is to share experiences with others and be part of a vibrant community. We foster sharing and learning in a safe environment through organizing our own events as well as hosting community organizations. We also provide a range of dynamic venues where community members can hold events.

From exploring the meaning of identity with a drag performer to learning about the experiences of Indigenous community members in residential schools, we are honoured to host many special events that bridge science and culture. It’s all about curiosity, exploration, and creativity – with some added fun. Our annual May the Fourth Be With You event merges science fiction and astronomy, with visitors dressing as their favourite Rebel or Empire characters.

The Space Centre is Eternally Grateful for Your Support

Achieving our mission would not be possible without the support of our incredible donors and members. Whether you are a long-time supporter or a one-time donor, every contribution helps us create transformational programming that promotes science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) learning and inspires learners of all ages.

We are equally thankful for our visitors, who come with curiosity and an open mind to learn. We are continually looking for new and innovative ways to spark creativity, build community, and inspire future scientific minds.

As we celebrate this milestone of 55 years, we are excited to continue hosting incredible events and harnessing technology to reach more communities with our programming. Here’s to another 55 years of improving science literacy, raising public awareness, and stimulating creativity!

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