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Great Hall Reopens at NYSCI After $25M Renovation

By Katie Honan | June 19, 2015 9:26pm | Updated on June 22, 2015 8:20am
 The Great Hall was unveiled in time for the 1965 World's Fair and recently underwent a $25 million renovation.
The Great Hall was unveiled in time for the 1965 World's Fair and recently underwent a $25 million renovation.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA — The New York Hall of Science's Great Hall reopens this week after a $25 million renovation with an immersive exhibit that explores the connectivity of the planet and everyone's role in it. 

Connected Worlds is the first permanent exhibit inside the historic hall since NYSCI began renovations in 2009, starting with structural work on the outside. 

Work on the inside —  which included scrubbing clean each of the 5,500 glass and concrete panels by hand — began in late 2012.

The 80-foot tall building was designed by Wallace K. Harrison for the 1965 World's Fair, and originally exhibited Rendezvous in Space, Frank Capra's last film.

The new exhibit, though, connects visitors with something closer to home: Planet Earth.

"It's like being inside a giant video game, but there's context that goes with it," Truck McDonald, a manager for training and content in NYSCI's Explainer department, said.

Visitors can plant trees by moving their hands and adjust the water supply around four different terrains using reflective "logs" on the floor. 

NYSCI collaborated with Design I/O, a creative studio, Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network and other university centers to create a game that's engaging and informative, officials said. 

Connected Worlds is the largest responsive environment ever created for a museum, according to NYSCI — and addresses serious issues like climate change and globalization. 

"The single greatest scientific imperative in 1965 was space exploration. When we started talking about the single most scientific today, it's the planet," said Dan Wempa, the museum's vice president of external affairs.

"We really wanted people, especially kids, to understand your actions have a far-reaching impact. It's meant for people to feel empowered by this."

Connected Worlds opens Saturday, June 27 and will be permanently displayed at the museum.