- September 10, 2021
For seven years, the planetarium at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach remained nameless. But as far as museum staff was concerned, its future was written in the stars.
On Thursday, Dec. 9, MOAS celebrated the official dedication of the Lowell and Nancy Lohman Family Planetarium, a moment that marked the completion of a nine-year project to renovate the museum's entrance courtyard, according to a press release. Now, when visitors arrive, they'll be welcomed by a new blue illuminated sign on the exterior of the Root Auditorium, just a few steps away from the planetarium's dome.
Nancy Lohman said her husband has often repeated a phrase throughout their marriage: Adventure and life begins with learning. The quote rings true for Lowell, she said.
“Truly, I’m honored to have our names on the planetarium, but this is really Lowell’s legacy, because he really loves astronomy," Nancy Lohman said. "… I’m so proud of what a learner he is.”
The planetarium was built in 2014 after the museum's original flooded in 2009. In September 2019, the Lohmans, of Ormond Beach, donated $2.5 million to the museum's endowment, a figure that was then tripled by a two-to-one endowment match by Cici and Hyatt Brown. The museum's endowment currently stands at over $50 million, the press release states.
In May 2021, the Lohman's stepped up their support of the museum with the establishment of the Lohman's Museum of of Arts and Sciences Field Study, a program that will allow all Volusia County Schools fifth and eighth graders to visit MOAS over the next three years thanks to a $340,000 gift by the Lohmans to the FUTURES Foundation. The program launched in September, and so far, 2,800 eighth graders have participated.
Katherine Hurst Miller, president of the MOAS board of trustees, thanked the Lohmans for their contributions, as the planetarium is critical to the museum's mission to inspire younger generations.
“I think of our staff and our supporters as our stars, and there’s something that shines brighter than stars — we heard it was Venus, but I really think it’s Lowell and Nancy Lohman tonight, and I’m so grateful for all that they have done," Miller said.
MOAS Executive Director Andrew Sandall said they knew the planetarium was a special place when they built it in 2014. The old planetarium could only do a couple shows a day, and currently, they hold 30-35 shows a week in their current planetarium. Therefore, Sandall said they knew the naming rights to the building had to go to someone special as well.
“Sometimes the universe just aligns, and Lowell and Nancy were the right people," Sandall said. "We’re proud to have their name on our planetarium. We’re proud to work with them because not only are they such great philanthropists and great community supporters, they are our biggest cheerleaders it’s possible to have.”
Lowell Lohman's love of astronomy spans decades, but it wasn't until 15 years ago that he was able to take a course at Daytona State College. He invited his late professor's family to the ceremony due to the impact that course had on his life. During his speech, he took the time to thank everyone who played a part in making Lowell and Nancy Lohman Family Planetarium come to fruition.
“That doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’s a special night for Nancy and I, and the planetarium," he said.