The Museum of Arts and Sciences officially inaugurates the Lohman Planetarium

DAYTONA BEACH – Nancy and Lowell Lohman – and especially Lowell – have long had a long passion for stars and planets, and for that matter everything in the universe.

On Thursday, Ormond Beach philanthropists shared the origins of this passion at the official opening of the Nancy and Lowell Lohman Planetarium at the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

Dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman planetarium at MOAS in Daytona Beach, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

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The planetarium has a long history at the museum, first opened in 1971. In 2014 the latest version of the planetarium opened and with it came a naming rights agreement with the Lohmans.

In 2019, the Lohmans donated $ 2.5 million to the museum’s endowment, which supports all of its programs.

Then, in 2020, the couple agreed to donate an additional $ 340,000 to help pay for field trips for Volusia County students to visit the planetarium. This donation allowed thousands of students to see the universe through the planetarium, regardless of their ability to pay to visit.

“It’s really Lowell’s legacy, because he really enjoys astronomy and the sciences,” said Nancy Lohman. “I am so proud of that he is a learner.”

Lowell Lohman, who has been a successful entrepreneur throughout his life, has long been fascinated by astronomy. It all started when he was a student at Florida State University majoring in biology and chemistry. He was lucky enough to take an astronomy course there, but “didn’t.”

“This is something that I have regretted for years and years,” said Lowell Lohman. “Then there was a little article in the newspaper about 15 years ago, and it said there was an evening class (astronomy) at Daytona State College on Thursday nights for three hours.”

Dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman planetarium at MOAS in Daytona Beach, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman planetarium at MOAS in Daytona Beach, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

He told Nancy Lohman that he felt like he “missed something in life” and “really wanted to take this course”. The couple immersed themselves in their studies, even achieving the top marks in the class at the end. This educational experience helped them appreciate the mysteries of the universe as they traveled and observed the stars through various powerful telescopes across the country.

Their Daytona State teacher, David Riban, has since passed away. But his wife, Kathy Riban, attended the dedication with two of his three children, David and Claudine, and David’s partner, Erik. The Lohmans thanked Kathy Rivan for the education her husband provided to them.

“Match made in paradise”

This passion also turned out to be perfect for the museum’s efforts to secure sponsorship for the planetarium, according to museum executive director Andrew Sandall.

“We knew this was a real gem for the community,” said Sandall. “It wasn’t something we just wanted to give up easily. We had to have the right person, a sponsor with a name for the planetarium that made sense and (who would be) someone who cares. “

The museum director said that while the Lohmans’ passion for astronomy itself suited them perfectly, their community involvement in a number of causes was even more worth it.

Dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman planetarium at MOAS in Daytona Beach, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman planetarium at MOAS in Daytona Beach, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

“We had no idea the perfect fit,” said Sandall. “When they got there and we started discussing naming rights with them, we realized it was a perfect match.”

Sandall recalled how the museum’s first version of the planetarium was recognized by the community for its importance at the time.

“Since then (the planetarium) has been at the heart of our education program,” said Sandall. “When we moved the planetarium here in 2014 and brought it to the front of the building, it was because we realized how important it is to have visitors. “

The results have not escaped Sandall’s attention over the years.

“Three-quarters of the people who come to the museum also come to the planetarium show, and we have people who come to the planetarium show who don’t come to see the rest of the museum,” Sandall said. “It’s always been his own little world.”

Sandall said the planetarium puts us “at the top as a museum experience”. It includes technology that allows museum staff to explain virtually everything in the universe, starting with Earth and man-made satellites in orbit, then the rest of the solar system, then galaxies and stars to millions of people. light years.

“So few museums have something as incredible as this inside their walls,” said Sandall.

“The stars have really aligned”

During the dedication event, guests were invited to the planetarium, where they were treated to a projection show as they lay in their chairs to watch the simulated starry sky.

Museum of Astronomy curator Seth Mayo took guests through constellations, galaxies and even through the rocky rings of Saturn during his presentation.

“It means a lot that the Lohmans love astronomy, education, space and planetariums,” Mayo said. “It’s even more meaningful when I present the planetarium to our guests, to our students who come here.

Mayo said the continued support of the Lohmans to help the museum grow and do better is “very important.”

“The stars have really aligned with them and how passionate they are about astronomy,” Mayo told the few dozen people at the dedication.

Dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman planetarium at MOAS in Daytona Beach, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman planetarium at MOAS in Daytona Beach, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Just outside the planetarium entrance inside the museum, the Lohmans unveiled a plaque celebrating their support for the museum and their passion for astronomy.

The Museum of Arts and Science is located at 352 S Nova Rd. And is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on entrance fees and more about the museum, visit www.moas.org or call 386-255-0285.

This article originally appeared in the Daytona Beach News-Journal: MOAS organizes a dedication event in Nancy, Lowell Lohman Planetarium


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Arline J. Mercier