Jackson Planetarium Celebrates New Chapter With Lift-Off Ceremony

February 13, 2024

The City of Jackson and Friends of the Russell C. Davis Planetarium hosted a “Lift Off” Ceremony at the Mississippi Museum of Art, celebrating a new dawn for the city’s cherished planetarium.

The Russell C. Davis Planetarium opened in 1979 but closed in 2018 after extensive storm damage prevented normal operations. Since then, fundraising efforts have been underway and construction officially commenced in late 2023. The architectural design of the new planetarium and exhibits is by CDFL Architects + Engineers, and Falcon’s Treehouse, and Fountain Construction Company is handling the build-out. The new planetarium is slated to open in mid-2025, featuring state-of-the-art exhibits outlining the science and future of space and how Mississippians have contributed to that rich history.

The Lift Off Ceremony featured remarks by Gayle Wicker on behalf of Senator Roger Wicker, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, and many other project supporters. Attendees were treated to a virtual walk-through of the new space. Jackson native Teneia Sanders performed a rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon,” and dignitaries received custom hard hats by Jackson artist Gavin Byrd.

“This is just the beginning of what’s to come,” says Mike Williams, Deputy Director of the Department of Human & Cultural Services for the City of Jackson. “The Planetarium Lift Off Ceremony marks a transformative moment for our community as we embark on a journey to ignite the spark of curiosity and wonder for all. The beacon of science and education will not only chart the stars but also navigate the path toward a future for our children, community, and great city and state.”

The $18 million project is made possible by both public and private funds from the City of Jackson, State of Mississippi, Hinds County, Community Foundation for Mississippi, Ergon Foundation, Junior League of Jackson, Marie R. Hoerner Foundation, C Spire Foundation, Phil Hardin Foundation, Regions Foundation, Entergy Mississippi LLC, The Pruet Foundation, Cadence Bank Foundation, Atmos Energy Corporation, Downtown Jackson Partners, and Trustmark National Bank.

“The Lift Off event for the Jackson Planetarium heralds a new era of discovery for our community and beyond,” says T.J. Taylor, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Friends of the Russell C. Davis Planetarium. “We are extremely excited about this long-awaited new chapter for the planetarium.”