Art Klinger Retires

I thank Art Klinger for all of his support, astronomy outreach, and service to the planetarium community. I wish him and his family well as he retires as Director of the PHM Digital Video Theater (DVT) and its Air & Space Museum. Excerpts from an earlier PHM planetarium website hint at the extensive collection.

Here are my comments at the public hearing of the PHM School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

After decades of teaching at PHM, Art Klinger is retiring. I ask to recognize Art Klinger’s contributions made beyond those classroom years, contributions to the broader community.

For historical perspective, Art Klinger presented the concept of a school planetarium in 1977. It was proposed then that the planetarium would:

-provide free public shows at least once a month

-provide a sequential K-8 Astronomy/Science/History/Geography/Math Curriculum

-provide, at a nominal fee, the same opportunities for education to any school district outside PHM.

For 35 years, Art Klinger has delivered in all three regards.

PHM can proudly proclaim it has an Air & Space Museum. In the mid-80’s Art Klinger connected with representatives of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and NASA alike to procure historic artifacts on loan, including 44 space objects, of which 13 had been on the moon.

From his personal collection Art Klinger has loaned for exhibition the autographs of every significant person in the history of space flight.

[Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post, Eddie Rickenbacker, Chuck Yeager, Enola Gay crewmembers, Werner von Braun, Howard Hughes, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova, the original Chinese Taikonauts, Bruce Rutan, etc.]

and the autograph of every single American astronaut who has flown in space!

In May 2004, when the planetarium was threatened with closure, the community rallied in support. Attendance records ten years ago suggested 500,000 visitors had reaped the fruit of Art Klinger’s labor. That was a decade ago.

Art Klinger has generated positive publicity for PHM through planetarium-based projects such as 2004 and 2012 Transits of Venus and Let There Be Night (LTBN) while also teaching astronomy classes. If you were to pick up this month’s (May 2015) issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, you’d find a sidebar in the cover story in which the LTBN project is cited with a photo as a model of citizen science. That PHM achievement is still being touted in magazines six years later.

When the media has needed to contact a resource for current news related to astronomy and space exploration, who has provided it? The Director of the PHM DVT.

When Art Klinger campaigned for upgrading to a Digital Video Theater, he transformed the planetarium into a fully immersive theater, keeping it relevant for education within PHM and the broader community alike.

Art Klinger hasn’t just been a PHM teacher for over 30 years--he has been the founder, steward, advocate, and energy behind a Michiana institution.

As both a resident in the PHM School Corporation and a person who has benefited from Art Klinger’s leadership, I ask the PHM School Board to recognize in some permanent fashion Art Klinger’s significant achievements and service to our community beyond his classroom contributions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Chuck Bueter

"Art Klinger has been the founder, steward, advocate, and energy behind a Michiana institution."

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