Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Village Interviews: Hayden Planetarium

7:30 PM
MNN (Channel 67)

Dear Friends :

This Wednesday (tomorrow), May 6th at 7:30 PM, on my every-other-week shoestring cable show Famousx2, on Channel 67, I am re-airing the footage I shot at the old Hayden Planetarium on its last day of operation on January 5th, 1997, before it was demolished by the Museum of Natural History trustees using their frontboy astronomer Neil Degrasse Tyson, who is a good astronomer and a nice guy but a shill.

As I predicted in the program I edited a few months later, the new Hayden Planetarium, built over the following three years, lacks the charm or pedagogical skills of the old one, and the skyshows are high-tech but bland and more than four times the price of the shows of the mid-90s, when one could encounter a true diversity of races and classes in the planetarium (and the Museum), unlike now.

Although the Museum of Natural History has a shady history of serving elites and as a front for imperialist ventures in the so-called Third World, by the time of the 60s and 70s, when I was a regular visitor of it and its planetarium, it had become an institution that was relatively affordable and, more importantly, responsive to the minority and working communites of NYC through numerous low-cost or free cultural events and science-education workshops. One found all kinds of working and middle-class people involved in these virtually every week. Now, like the Space Program itself, the museum serves corporate and commercial interests and has regained its patrician atmosphere and prices. I should not be surprised to learn that it is involved in a consultative or R-and-D way in the militarization of space that has been quietly increasing for some years now in both the private and public sectors.

Anyway, for those of you who remember and perhaps were introduced to the wonder, beauty and even democratic implications and potential of outer space and astronomy through the grand but inviting (almost) a common people's hall that was the Old Hayden Planetarium, you will appreciate seeing these shots of what you remember. I have added appropriate outer-space themed jazz, rock, classical and other music to alleviate some of my bad camera work. LOL.

Ad Astra!

Last summer, the last time I aired this, the computer stream was not working. This morning (Tuesday), it is, so that is a good sign for tomorrow.

If you are in Manhattan and have access to Time Warner, you can see it this Wednesday at 7:30 PM (DST-that's NYC Daylight Savings Time) on channel 67.On the RCN system, that should be channel 85 or near it.

If you are outside of Manhattan, anywhere in the world, and you have a good high-speed connection on your computer, you can go to MNN - What's On Now or to MNN and click on channel 67 to see it at the same time.

Sometimes MNN does screw up broadcasts, but usually they air things without too many problems.....Be patient.



NDTyson said...

Wow. Never (knowingly) been called a shill before. I had to look it up to make sure I knew what it meant. And all these years I thought i was a leader.

Not that your asked, but the new Rose Center for Earth and Space (containing the rebuild Hayden Planetarium) has enjoyed more visitors in its nine years of existence than the previous thirty years combined at the old Hayden. So if not you, then somebody out there likes what we've done with the place.

-NDTyson Astrophysicist & Director
Hayden Planetarium, AMNH

Dana Herbert said...

Email I just received from Jason in response to comment from NDTyson . . . .

I tried to post the following on your blog, but I can't seem to do it:


I am actually a fan of your book and PBS programs and did meet you when you first took over, and you were a gentleman. However, I stand by what I wrote, and I am not the only one. Let me share with you an email I received today:


I will be sure to watch, as the destruction of that great deco building was yet another nail in the coffin of this once fine, and worthy city. I signed many petitions at the time, as did thousands, but to no avail. We know a few people who work at the museum, and virtually NO one who worked there wanted this to happen (as you no doubt know already), and now the whole new "Gaudi-tarium" is - guess what? - practically bankrupting the museum! No one ever learns a damn thing around here, I guess.

Thanks for re-airing this one. Keep in touch!



Anyway, thanks for writing, and I hope to meet you again someday.

Jason Howard

Eric said...

Dana, love the article. Came across it while trying to find anything: photographs, videos of the interior of the old planetarium. Only thing I've found so far is the short clip in b&w from Woody Allen's Manhattan. Wondering if you would ever consider posting your footage to youtube. Loved the old planetarium since I was a kid, had so much more character than the glass box.