On July 1, 1984, the Edmonton skyline changed forever with the opening of the Edmonton Space Sciences Centre. It was shaped like a spaceship and filled to the brim with education, entertainment, and technology. Rebranded as the TELUS World of Science – Edmonton in 2005, the landmark destination is now celebrating 35 years.
“TELUS World of Science was the direct result of the success of the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium (QEP), which opened in 1960,” says Alan Nursall, president and CEO. “It was Canada’s first public planetarium.”
The Edmonton Space & Science Foundation was formed in 1978 to build a successor to the QEP. The Foundation raised millions of dollars to build the facility. QEP quietly closed its doors in 1983, leaving a shuttered building in Coronation Park that sits in the shadow of TELUS World of Science, which is just steps away.
“When the science centre opened, its signature experience was the Margaret Zeidler Star Theatre (MZST),” says Nursall. “Inside a 23-metre hemispheric dome, incredibly detailed images of the night sky were created by the most advanced star projector in the world, built by Zeiss-Jena in the former East Germany.”
In 2017, the MZST was completely overhauled and now features 12 4K Sony laser projectors that project 50 million active pixels. “The new Zeidler Dome is the first dome in the world with full 10K projection,” says Nursall.
The IMAX theatre has also been upgraded. In 2013, it was converted to a 3D laser projection system and was the third institutional theatre of this kind in the world.
But those aren’t the only changes.
“In March of this year, we opened CuriousCITY, our early childhood space designed for toddlers and younger children. It has been a huge hit,” informs Nursall. “The giant climber space is based on Edmonton’s landmarks, from the airport tower to the High Level Bridge. It has tunnels, waterplay, building spaces, and so much more. The most recent addition to our collection of science galleries is The Nature Exchange, a space where visitors get rewarded for knowledge. Children and adults can collect specimens from nature, like pinecones or minerals, or even photos of animals.”
Some of the exhibitions are temporary – and legendary. Following hits like the BODY WORLDS exhibitions, The Science Behind of Pixar Exhibition, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition, the newest incoming attraction, Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, is expected to be a massive success. The exhibition spans 80 years of the MARVEL universe.
TELUS World of Science is a favourite destination for locals and tourists and is very active in the community.
“We are a centre of inspiration and education,” notes Nursall. “Each year, we do about 500,000 admissions. That’s second in Alberta, trailing only the Calgary Zoo. We see about 80,000 school students annually who take part in science-based, curriculum-supporting school programs. We are a huge asset to the formal education system; a fun, safe destination for families and groups; and an important part of Edmonton’s tourism sector.”
Nursall continues, “Building relationships with local Indigenous communities means a lot to me. We are committed to working with Indigenous communities to create content and spaces that are meaningful and useful. Our first in-house production in the Zeidler Dome is Legends of the Northern Sky, a show about First Nations interpretations of the night sky. Created in collaboration with First Nations elders in Manitoba and Alberta, the show has been extremely well received by all audiences.”
Currently TELUS World of Science is halfway through the Aurora Project, a $40 million renovation and expansion designed to upgrade everything from the structure of the building to the guest experience.
“We are building a science centre that will serve this growing city for the next 30 years,” concludes Nursall; and there is one very special announcement as well: “We are working with the City of Edmonton on the refurbishment of the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium in Coronation Park.”
TELUS World of Science is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Edmonton and is a place of creativity, education and inspiration.