The Observatory has always benefitted from the wonderful engagement of volunteers. Please consider helping us teach visitors about the Observatory’s history and treasures. Check back here for more details as they become available.
Inspire the Next Generation of Star-Gazers
Welcome to the Boldly
The University of Michigan’s second-oldest building, now managed by the Bentley Historical Library, is ready to become a living laboratory that makes centuries of science relevant for a new generation of visitors.
With your help, we can make the Observatory’s original scientific instruments and architecture accessible to as many people as possible—all while providing hands-on experiences that illustrate key scientific concepts still applicable today.
Support from Judy and Stanley Frankel
The Observatory’s new addition has been made possible by the generosity of Judy and Stanley Frankel. In 2019, the University of Michigan Regents approve renaming the Observatory the Judy and Stanley Frankel Detroit Observatory, which honors the Frankels’ $5 million contribution. We are grateful for their generosity, which helps make the Observatory a popular and productive feature of the University once again.
Although the Observatory was beautifully restored in 1997, the space was largely inaccessible to physically handicapped visitors. Today, a 7,000 square-foot addition is underway, which will add classroom, event, and exhibit space, as well as make the entire facility more accessible to all visitors—while still preserving the historic integrity of the Observatory.
But this expansion is only the start—there is so much more we can do.
Support from donors like you will help us continue to transform this campus icon that connects science, learning, and history.
Giving New Life to Historic Instruments
Original Observatory instruments can have a critical role in teaching science—that is, if they can be restored and conserved. For example, students can use the Meridian Circle telescope to understand astronomical concepts and scientific applications for benefit of society. Or by enhancing use of the Fitz telescope, students can learn hands-on a range of techniques for exploring the sun, moon, planets, stars, and more.
Visitors have the opportunity to experience the Observatory like never before. An interactive video wall and hands-on exhibits will illustrate key scientific ideas and enhance visitors’ use of Observatory instruments. Video cameras in the dome, streaming throughout the facility, will bring the stars that much closer on viewing nights. Public lectures will bring visitors face-to-face with experts.
Enhancing State-of-the-Art Teaching Space
New teaching space in the Observatory’s addition—configurable for a lecture or small-group learning—will seat up to 70-75 students for classes in Astronomy, History, American Culture, Museum Studies, and more. Technological updates will allow the new space to integrate with exhibits and displays throughout the Observatory.
Putting an Observatory Team in Place
We want to hire the very best ambassadors who can help visitors interpret and use this new space. Student docents, as well as an outreach astronomer, will help run programs, lectures, and observing sessions.