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Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St Johnsbury, Vermont

The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium is a museum and planetarium located in the Northeast Kingdom town of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It was founded in 1891 by philanthropist and inventor Thaddeus Fairbanks, a philanthropist and inventor, and is now a National Historic Landmark. Let's dig right in an explore why this place is so special and important to the folks of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom and beyond!

Who was Thaddeus Fairbanks and What Was His Importance to St Johnsbury, Vermont?

Seeking a way to weigh farm goods without unloading wagons, Thaddeus Fairbanks invented the platform scale capable of weighing entire loaded wagons with precision. His creation enabled the founding of the Fairbanks Scale company, which sold scales globally. The resulting influx of wealth and resources transformed Saint Johnsbury.

Have you heard about the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vermont?

This museum is awesome! As a child, I visited there several times. It was started way back in 1891 by a guy named Thaddeus Fairbanks who wanted to share his huge collection of natural history specimens, artifacts from around the world, and other neat stuff with the local community.

The museum is inside this gorgeous old Victorian-style building that's on the National Register of Historic Places. When you walk inside, it's like stepping back in time to the late 1800s. You'll see taxidermy animals, skeletons, rocks and gems, old-timey tools and machines, and a bunch of other oddities from Fairbank's personal collection. It's part natural history museum, part curiosity cabinet!

The Simply Amazing Fairbanks Planetarium

One of the highlights is the The Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, which opened in 1960. It's the only public planetarium in the entire state of Vermont! The star projector is super old school – it uses holes poked in a giant dodecahedron to project stars onto the dome. But they updated the planetarium in 2012 with comfy new seats and digital projection. Planetarium shows will take you on a trip through the cosmos or teach you about constellations and space exploration.

Another cool thing is the weather center. The Fairbanks family has been recording weather observations in St. Johnsbury since the 1870s! Now professional meteorologists do daily forecasts for local TV and radio stations right from the museum. The instruments are on the roof and you can check them out from inside.

In the summertime, stop by the courtyard to see butterflies fluttering around the butterfly house! In 2017, the Shippee Family Eye Care Butterfly House was added in the courtyard behind the Museum's main gallery. It's a netted enclosure filled with native plants to attract local butterfly species.

One of the main attractions at the museum is its collection of natural history specimens, including a large collection of stuffed and mounted birds, as well as a variety of fossils, minerals, and other specimens. The museum also has a collection of artifacts from around the world, including ancient Egyptian artifacts and Native American baskets. In addition to these traditional exhibits, the museum also has a number of works of art on display, including paintings, sculptures, and other pieces. Some of the standout exhibits at the museum include a rare collection of antique globes.

Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium Educational Programs

In addition to its traditional exhibits, the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium also offers a number of educational programs and events for visitors. These include planetarium shows, lectures, workshops, and more. The planetarium itself is equipped with a state-of-the-art projector, and offers shows on a variety of topics, including astronomy, space exploration, and the history of the universe.

One of the unique features of the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium is its focus on the natural history and culture of Vermont. The museum has a strong emphasis on preserving the state's natural and cultural heritage, and works to educate visitors about the history and natural beauty of Vermont.

Want to learn more? Here are some frequently asked questions about this one-of-a-kind Vermont museum:

Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

  • When is the Fairbanks Museum open? The museum is open daily from 10am-5pm, except for January when it's closed for annual maintenance. They suggest allowing about 2 hours to tour the galleries.
  • How much does it cost to visit? General admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, and for kids ages 4-17. Children 4 and under are free. Planetarium shows are an extra $7 for non-members, free for members.
  • Can I touch anything in the museum? Please don't touch any of the museum exhibits or animals. Looking is great, touching is not allowed.
  • Are dogs allowed? Sorry, no pets are permitted in the museum. Service animals are welcome.
  • I love astronomy! Does the planetarium have public shows? Definitely! Check the event calendar for details.
  • How do I get to the Fairbanks Museum? The museum is located at 1302 Main Street in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It's about 2.5 hours from Burlington, VT and 3.5 hours from Boston, MA. Free, off-street parking is available in a designated parking lot on Thaddeus Lane. Under the solar canopy, this lot hosts two Level 2 EV charging stations through the ChargePoint network. The first two hours of charging is 20 cents per KWH.

Overall, the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium is a fascinating and educational destination for visitors of all ages. Whether you're interested in natural history, art, or science, there's something for everyone at this wonderful museum and planetarium. If you're visiting Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, then this fabulous museum is certainly a “must see” on the bucket list! Finally, check out their YouTube Channel for some fascinating videos!

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