The Bell Museum will be closed all of 2017 – but when it finally reopens, it'll have a planetarium

It's getting a 120-seat digital domed planetarium.
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The University of Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History will close at the end of the year so it can move from the Minneapolis campus to St. Paul.

It won't reopen until summer 2018, so the museum has extended some of its hours to give people more time to visit. It'll be open every day in December, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then Dec. 26 through the rest of the year, it will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There will be a commemorative "Lights Out" ceremony at closing time on Dec. 31.

After more than 75 years, the museum will close its galleries and start preparing for the big move.

It's getting a planetarium

When the Bell Museum reopens in 18 months at the corner of Larpenteur and Cleveland avenues, it'll have a slightly different name: Bell Museum + Planetarium. Meaning, it's getting a planetarium.

The museum kind of had a planetarium before. It was an "ExploraDome" though – which is like a giant, inflatable traveling dome that people crawl into.

The new one will be a solid, 120-seat digital domed theater.

This $79 million project will also feature expanded galleries, interactive exhibitions, as well as traditional dioramas, the Star Tribune reported earlier this year.

It's expected to more than double the number of visitors each year from 45,000 to 105,000. And provide more opportunities for underserved communities.

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