Is there a long-standing Edmonton attraction that’s as magical as the Telus World of Science Edmonton? Since 1984, when the original Edmonton Space Science Centre replaced the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium, generations of kids have taken fieldtrips and family outings to the corner of 111th Avenue and 142nd Street to learn what lies within them, the solar system and beyond. Many leave with a sense of wonder they’ve never felt before.
President and CEO Alan Nursall knows the feeling well. “For me personally, the Queen Elizabeth planetarium was my childhood.” But it was more than a personal love. The Edmonton-born Nursall spent his adult life in Ontario, helping to open and run the Sudbury science centre, before coming back to town to run the Telus World of Science. It’s been a busy eight years, and an unprecedented two years, which made the current remodelling a bigger challenge.
“It’s been a blessing and a curse. Because construction is highly invasive, and a lot of safety procedures require being closed, it was kind of good, for a time. But this opening has been delayed three months because of supply chain delays. So for the operation side of things, it was not great.”
The pandemic affected not only the renovation’s timeline, but the content, too. The new Health Zone shows how viruses infect and spread through human bodies, and lets guests perform experiments, hear their heartbeats, see their veins and even do a DNA extraction.
There’s a new, extended entrance and gift shop, as well as the new (or significantly reimagined) CuriousCITY, Nature Exchange, S.P.A.C.E Gallery, Science Garage and Zeidler Dome, and Nursall knows how excited Edmontonians are to see it all. “In 2019, after we opened CuriosCITY and Nature Exchange, we had 560,000 admissions. I mean, we were just rocketing along. Today, there’s even more pent-up energy and demand. People are looking for places to go.”
Nursall also knows that this reopening is just one option for Edmontonians seeking artistic and scientific enlightenment, and is happy to be part of that community. “Edmonton deserves facilities like this. We’ve got a great new museum, a great new art gallery, a great new library and, now, a great new rejuvenated Science Centre. These are important things. And we all feed off each other. It keeps a suite of healthy attractive destinations, which is good for everybody.”