• Chamberlain, Von Del
  • Crawford, Richard
  • Bauer, Cheryl R
  • Barbely, Charles G
  • Callen, Thomas H. II
  • Sharp, James H
  • Bertsch, Zarth
  • Smithsonian Enterprises


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996
  • Smithsonian Institution, Albert Einstein Planetarium [, 02/01/2000]
  • E-mail from Sandy Rittenhouse-Black to Mike Willens, 01/20/2000
  • E-mail from Cheryl Bauer to Mike Willens, 02/01/2000
  • Air & Space Magazine, "The Museum's New, Revamped Planetarium," by Heather Goss, August 2014,, accessed September 1, 2021.
  • National Air and Space Museum, Stories, "Farewell to the Zeiss Planetarium Projector," by David DeVorkin, November 4, 2019,, accessed September 1, 2021.
  • In 1974 the Presentation and Education Division at the National Air and Space Museum was organized to develop and implement educational programs and operate the theater and planetarium planned for the new museum, then being built. Prior to this move, a planetarium had existed in the Quonset hut building behind the Castle, where there was a Goto star projector and a small dome.
  • A thirty-foot domed planetarium, called the Experimentarium, went into operation in the Arts and Industries Building to serve as a pilot for the seventy-foot structure being planned. In 1975 the Federal Republic of Germany (then West Germany) gave the United States, as a Bicentennial gift, a Zeiss Model VIa optical planetarium projector for the planetarium. The planetarium was dedicated as the Albert Einstein Spacearium and opened in July 1976.
  • Since 1983, the Planetarium has been moved around the administrative hierarchy a number of times, from Space Science and Exploration, to Museum Operations, to Exhibits and Production Operations, to Interpretive Programs, and finally to Exhibits and Public Services Department, Exhibits Division, 1997-1999. The Albert Einstein Planetarium became managed by Smithsonian Enterprises (SE) in 1999.
  • In 2014, the planetarium installed a Definiti 8K Full Dome System, which projects ultra-high-definition images made with Sky-Skan software. At the same time a new custom-built, immersive, 13,000-watt digital sound system was installed. In 2019 the original Zeiss planetarium projector was retired and the planetarium closed due to a planned renovation of the National Air and Space Museum.
  • Von Del Chamberlain served as Chief of the Presentation and Education Division, 1974-1978, and Charles G. Barbely was Planetarium Officer, 1976-1978. In 1978, Presentation and Education was divided, with the Planetarium remaining with Presentation under Chamberlain until 1980. In that year, the Planetarium became independent and the position of chief was vacant. In 1981 the Planetarium was placed under the Exhibits and Presentation Division, with Richard D. Crawford as Chief and Thomas H. Callen II as Chief of the Planetarium Unit. James H. Sharp served as Chief of the Unit, 1983-1995. Cheryl Bauer has served as Director, 1995- . Since 2011, Zarth Bertsch ,in his role as Director of Theaters for Smithsonian Enterprises, has been responsibile for overseeing the planetarium.
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of above."

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1974
  • 1974-


  • Aeronautics
  • Planetariums
  • Museums
  • Aeronautical museums


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00140

Full Record

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