Saint Louis Science Center James S. McDonnell Planetarium’s 50th Anniversary Gala 

The Saint Louis Science Center celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium with a black-tie gala, Saturday, December 7, 2013. A St. Louis icon and attraction designed by HOK co-founder Gyo Obata, the Planetarium has become a testament to James S. McDonnell’s commitment to the St. Louis community, sharing the wonders of our universe and the marvel of modern flight with more than 19 million visitors.

Special guest and featured speaker Charles Bolden, chief administrator of NASA, addressed friends and supporters. Bolden, a former Marine aviator, test pilot, and astronaut, has led the space agency since 2009. In his keynote address, Bolden talked about St. Louis’ role in the history of American space exploration, highlighting the industry’s mutually positive investments in our local community.

“We are celebrating a St. Louis treasure, ” noted Bert Vescolani, President and CEO, Saint Louis Science Center. “The James S. McDonnell planetarium is recognized as one of our nation’s leading educational facilities for exploring our universe. We strive to inspire the next generation of space explorers and scientists who will make those next journeys into space possible.”

Donna Wilkinson, president, The Wilkinson Group, and Dennis Muilenberg, president and CEO, Boeing Space, Defense and Security, The Boeing Company served as gala co-chairs. Honorary chair for the event was John McDonnell, retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Maggie Crane, former KMOV news reporter and current communications director for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, handled the evening’s mistress of ceremonies duties.

Presenting sponsors for the gala comprised Emerson and The Boeing Company. Other sponsors included Centene Corporation, Edward Jones, John and Anne McDonnell, Monsanto Company. Electrical Connection, Mercy, Peabody Energy, Pelopidas LLC and PGAV.