Thursday, November 29, 2012

Detroit's Science Center is reopening; Professor Farnsworth pleased



It's been 14 months since I wrote Detroit Science Center closed temporarily (I hope), which detailed what happened to Detroit's science museum.*  At the time, I had hoped that the institution would re-open the next month.  It turns out it's taking a lot longer, but it will reopen.  The Detroit Free Press has the news.

Detroit Science Center to reopen as Michigan Science Center; details to come next week
The former Detroit Science Center will announce its reopening date next week.

Renamed and reorganized as the Michigan Science Center, the long-dormant venue will open “sooner rather than later,” said Shelly Otenbaker, a board member who has been serving as a spokesperson for the museum, which closed amid financial problems in September 2011. Otenbaker would not discuss specifics.

The date will be revealed at a Tuesday news media event, and museum officials will also discuss issues related to staffing, fund-raising and programming, Otenbaker said.
That's for the permanent opening.  The Science Center will also be open this Saturday as part of Noel Night, as Crain's Detroit Business reported a week before Thanksgiving.
On its Facebook page Monday, the institution formerly known as the Detroit Science Center said Noel Night will give people the opportunity to get a "sneak peek" before it officially reopens.
...
The science center will be open 5-9 p.m. on Noel Night, offering access to hands-on exhibits, entertainment and other special activities.
The Michigan Science Center won't be alone in being open this Saturday.
Noel Night, scheduled for Dec. 1, will feature open houses at more than 60 venues in Midtown between Cass and John R and Kirby and Willis.

Among those opening their doors to the public that night are the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Historical Museum and the Detroit Public Library.

There also will be horse-drawn carriage rides, shopping, crafts, performances by more than 120 local music, theater and dance groups, and shuttle service between venues, all free.
So, who's responsible for the Michigan Science Center reopening?  Crain's Detroit Business has the answer to that, too.
The organization told Crain's in September that it had raised a little more than $2.5 million toward its $5 million goal. The DTE Energy Foundation's $250,000 commitment was publicly announced in mid-October, following gifts from others including the Ford Foundation, General Motors Foundation, ITC Holdings Corp., Lear Corp., Alex and Marie Manoogian Foundation and Penske Corp.

Additionally, the science center's white knight — Ron Weiser, founder of McKinley Associates Inc. in Ann Arbor, national finance chairman for the Republican National Committee and former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party —indicated that he and his wife, Eileen Lappin Weiser, a member of the Michigan Board of Education, planned to make an additional gift to the center.

Weiser, a former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, this summer acquired the science center's debt from Citizens Bank of Flint for "significantly less" than the roughly $6.2 million owed, saving its building and assets from being sold to the highest bidder at a public auction. He said at the time that he planned to sell the building and its contents back to the science center board for less than the amount he acquired it for, minus legal fees and closing costs.
I wish more Republicans were like the Weisers.  If they were, I might still be one of them.

*Cranbrook out here in the suburbs is a good museum, but it's much more about natural history than it is about hard science.  Besides, there is no public transportation to it.

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