Fort Worth

Fort Worth’s science museum plans to ‘re-imagine’ Omni space

Van Romans, president of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum has hired a chief technology officer to lead its technology efforts.
Van Romans, president of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum has hired a chief technology officer to lead its technology efforts. kbouaphanh@star-telegram.com

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History plans to “re-imagine” the Omni Theater space as part of a move to become a nationally recognized Academy of Digital Learning, officials announced Thursday night at the museum’s 75th gala celebration.

Van Romans, the museum’s president, said the new academy will position the museum as a hub for digital learning. It will include enhancing galleries and exhibitions, upgrading the Noble Planetarium and sweeping changes to the Omni Theater.

The Omni’s equipment is outdated and unable to compete with several other IMAX theaters in the area, Romans said. The museum is focused on creating a next-generation offering, he said.

The museum said preliminary plans “envision an immersive experience that places guests into new environments.”

He was not more specific but said the museum will launch a capital campaign when plans are completed.

“Obviously, these changes will transform the museum,” Romans said in a statement. “We’ll be extending into new arenas for all ages. Just as important, this could be transformational for Fort Worth and North Texas. Our goal is to nurture a nationally recognized center. Imagine a hub where leading teachers, researchers, programmers, technologists and designers come together to explore and experiment.

“At the same time, our children and teens will have the opportunity to develop digital and scientific literacy so they’ll thrive in the workforce for the future,” Romans said.

The museum said it has hired Doug Roberts, a leader in digital learning and science education, as the museum’s first chief technology officer to lead the efforts. Roberts oversaw changes to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, where he serves as an astronomer and associate vice president for digital technologies.

He currently works at Microsoft on its Worldwide Telescope, which enables a computer to function as a virtual telescope, and as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, according to his Facebook page.

The museum has been working for more than two years on its plans. As part of that, the museum said it is again working with Legorreta + Legorreta, the architects who designed the current building, which opened in November 2009.

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