in Jersey City, New Jersey, has announced gifts totaling $15.5 million in support of a range of programming as it prepares to commemorate its silver anniversary.
Awarded as part of the science center's twenty-fifth anniversary campaign, LSC received gifts of $5 million from New Jersey philanthropist Betty Wold Johnson in support of a variety of interactive and immersive exhibitions; $2 million from LSC board member and CEO Josh Weston to establish the Weston Family Lab for Earth and Space Exploration; $2.5 million from longtime supporters Joseph D. and Mille E. Williams for an exhibition on the new science of human life extension; and $6 million from board member Jennifer Chalsty to transform the center's iconic dome theater into the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium and LSC Giant Dome Theater, which is scheduled to open to the public during the 2017 holiday season.
The science center provides programs to more than 250,000 students annually, with the aim of getting K-12 students excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The center also presents programs for learners of all ages, from robotics classes for five-year-olds to regular LSC After Dark events for a largely millennial audience. In the past four years, annual attendance at center events has grown 53 percent, to more than 650,000 visitors, including 91,000 children from low-income neighborhoods in New Jersey.
"We want to make Liberty Science Center the best interactive science museum in the world," said Liberty Science Center president and CEO Paul Hoffman. "Our exhibition halls must be fully immersive and reflect the latest science and technology. With a quarter million more people coming to LSC annually, there is also more wear and tear on the interactive exhibits, and we want to make sure that every square foot of our three-hundred-thousand-square-foot facility is humming."