creative:impact - Expanding Offerings At U-M's New Planetarium And Dome Theater

Jul 23, 2019

Matthew Linke in his office
Credit Matthew Linke

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the awe-inspiring view of the universe from the seats of the Planetarium and Dome Theater at the new U-M Natural History Museum, but have you ever wondered what goes into designing these programs?  Planetarium manager Matthew Linke takes us into his stratosphere where imagination has no bounds on this week’s "creative:impact" with WEMU’s David Fair and The Art Alliance’s Deb Polich.

Deb Polich, President and CEO of the Arts Alliance

Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy.  In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of The Arts Alliance, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.

U of M Planetarium and Dome Theater
Credit U of M Planetarium & Dome Theater /

About the UM Planetarium and Dome Theater

Our state-of-the-art Planetarium & Dome Theater transports visitors beyond distant stars!

New technology also enables us to take visitors beyond space to explore the oceans' reefs, Earth’s geology, weather and more, all with surround sound and in new, comfortable seats!

View of the Stars at the U-M Planetarium and Dome Theater
Credit U of M Planetarium & Dome Theater /

Our new digital dome technology brings new perspectives to even the most familiar celestial bodies, constellations, and phenomena, from the Big Dipper to the northern lights.

View of the ocean at the U-M Planetarium and Dome Theater
Credit U of M Planetarium & Dome Theater /

But that's only part of it.  Over time, programs on weather, geology, and evolution will pair striking visuals with the museum's hands-on exhibits. At our opening, new featured content will explore the oceans' reefs, what a human journey to Mars might be like, and more.

The Dome has seating for 57 visitors and offers space for up to 9 wheelchairs, easy-access seats, and hearing assistance devices.

A trip to our Dome will be out of this world!

About Matthew Linke

Matthew Linke is a native of Alpena, Michigan, where he also began Planetarium work in 1978.  In 1988, he moved to Ann Arbor, to begin an MA in Public Administration at EMU.  This was his third degree after high school.  At the same time, he was hired by the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (then the “Exhibit Museum”), where he took over the planetarium in that version of the Museum.  This lasted until the old building closed in December 2017, and all effort was focused on preparing for the new move to the new Museum, housed in the Biological Sciences Building, in March 2018.  The Museum formally opened on April 14 of this year.

When planning was begun on the new Museum and its Planetarium in 2012, Matt was determined to build a state-of-the-art Planetarium and Digital Dome.  Looking to the future, he wanted a facility in place that would continue to benefit the Museum for years to come. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at