|The SECU Daily Planet features a giant, silver globe that will grace downtown Raleigh. Photo courtesy: Brian Russell.
The long-awaited SECU Daily Planet is set to open today in conjunction with the 24-hour grand opening of the Nature Research Center (NRC), a new 80,000 square-foot wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. 50,000 visitors are expected to visit the NRC during the opening event, with the giant, silver globe – SECU Daily Planet – serving as the focal point for the new wing. A three-story multimedia program area that employs unique audio and visual technologies, SECU Daily Planet is named in recognition of the $4 million grant provided to the Museum by members of State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) via the SECU Foundation. The overall NRC project was a 5-year undertaking with a cost of $56 million and is expected to add more than 200,000 visitors to the 700,000 who tour the nationally-acclaimed Museum each year.
The new Nature Research Center, which is adjacent to SECU’s 120,000 square foot building currently under construction, provides the Museum of Natural Sciences with the opportunity to bring research to the forefront in North Carolina and highlight current scientific issues that affect daily lives. The Center, which includes several green features, will also provide students, teachers and the general public with a unique opportunity to meet and learn directly from scientists. SECU Daily Planet boasts a theater with multi-channel surround sound. The 45-foot
square high-definition screen will be used for a variety of purposes. Scientists from the Museum, from partnering universities and from around the world will present ground-breaking discoveries, with more than 100 visitors enjoying the innovative theater at any time. Students and teachers in all 100 North Carolina counties can also enjoy selected SECU Daily Planet programs through the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN).
Dr. Betsy Bennett, Director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, comments, “With their grant for the SECU Daily Planet, State Employees’ Credit Union members are strong partners in our venture to make the new Nature Research Center a reality. We are delighted that the 24-hour grand opening celebration is here and invite all North Carolinians to enjoy the Museum expansion.”
“SECU Daily Planet is a natural fit for the SECU Foundation, as it supports one of the Foundation’s objectives of funding high impact projects in the area of education. Using technology to bring natural science presentations to all classrooms in our State, SECU Daily Planet will provide the Museum of Natural Sciences and its new Nature Research Center with the ability to offer enhanced science education to teachers and students across North Carolina,” responds Jim Barber, Chairman of the SECU Foundation Board of Directors.