Morehead Planetarium To Reopen After $9.2 Million Renovation

Drone Exterior

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is returning from a six-month COVID-19 closure—safer and better than ever.

Having completed its multi-year, $9.2 million renovation, Morehead Planetarium will reopen its doors to the public on Saturday, November 7, 2020, with new safety protocols in place in accordance with CDC, state, and local guidelines. 


Exterior West Entrance


What are the new renovations?

“Morehead has inspired millions since opening in 1949,” says Director Todd Boyette. “As we’ve grown, however, our building was no longer fit for purpose. This renovation provides a cutting-edge facility that matches our innovative programs.” 

With the upgrades, visitors will enjoy a variety of new exhibits that highlight multiple STEM disciplines.

Exhibits in the rotunda of the building focus on the history of Morehead and its astronomy roots, while the new Breakthrough Hub located at the exhibit level features interactive displays that demonstrate research from UNC scientists working in biology, marine science, biomedical engineering, and more.

Structural improvements to the building include ADA upgrades like the installation of a new elevator and a ramp to access the basement where there are bathrooms and a hallway exhibit.  The new Morehead experience also includes the installation of a box office.


Todd In Gateway Gallery


What to expect when you visit

North Carolina’s transition to Phase 3 of reopening came as encouraging news—Morehead had been developing safety protocols and preparing for a safe return to operations since June 2020, three months into the temporary closure.

“We are encouraging all visitors to read our new safety protocols in detail before planning their visit,” says Malenia Swinton, Marketing & Communications Manager and team lead for Morehead’s Reopening Task Force.

Here are the new safety guidelines and what to expect:

  • Visitors will be required to reserve two-hour timed tickets online ahead of time. Click here to reserve your time slot.
  • All guests over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask. At this time, gaiters, vented masks, and bandanas are not accepted.
    • Morehead team members will always be required to wear face masks, and, in some instances, may wear a face shield for additional protection.
  • The number of patrons will be limited to 25 percent or less of the building’s capacity at any given time. 
  • Physical distancing will be enforced throughout the building, including in the 200-seat full-dome theater.
  • New operating hours:
    • Friday, 1-7 p.m.
    • Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
    • Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
  • Schools and other groups can make reservations for Thursdays only. Contact the reservations team with any questions.

“The safety of our visitors and staff remain our top priority, and we hope that everyone appreciates the effort we have put into creating a safe and engaging experience,” Swinton continues. 

Because of COVID-19 limitations, Morehead is offering a temporary $3 ticket discount for the near future.

UNC students with a valid ONYEN can now enjoy $4 planetarium shows and free admission to Morehead. Discounted student tickets cannot be redeemed online; to reserve, call the box office at 919-962-1236.

Ready to plan your visit to the new-and-improved Morehead Planetarium? Click here to see upcoming time slots. Tickets will be available two weeks in advance.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is a unit of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Morehead serves North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of UNC to engage the public for an improved public understanding of science, technology, and health. For more information, visit


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