December 19, 2022—Cincinnati Museum Center’s Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater has been a staple of museum visits and field trips for over three decades, taking viewers to the farthest reaches of the universe, beneath the waves of the sea, across pristine natural landscapes, to the edge of smoldering volcanoes and hundreds of places in between. The OMNIMAX® Theater has dazzled millions and, this week, welcomed Jett, its nine millionth viewer.
The OMNIMAX® Theater opened in November 1990 with the debut of Blue Planet, awing viewers for the first time with breathtaking views of Earth from space that stretched overhead and beyond their peripheries on the domed screen. Walking the steep steps to find the perfect seat became part of the experience as you chose a front row seat that tipped back to orient you to the screen above or a seat near the projector that provided the optimal viewing experience. Even entering the theater was exciting as you walked past the clear glass projection booth where a monstrous projector spooled film from a giant platter. Three decades and nine million viewers later, the anticipation and thrill of the OMNIMAX® experience doesn’t disappoint.
“The magic of OMNIMAX® comes from the wrap-around image that fills your peripheral view, making you feel like you are in the picture,” said Dave Duszynski, vice president of featured experiences for Cincinnati Museum Center. “We can take the audience to places they might never get to go, or safely to places where humans would not want to ever go. But the picture is only half the story. The fantastic audio is the other half.”
The OMNIMAX® Theater was the first in the world to open with a state-of-the-art sound system to accompany the awe-inspiring five-story domed screen. Its film projector pulled film through at a rate of 5.6 feet per second. That film was then illuminated by a 15,000-watt water-cooled xenon arc bulb–a bulb originally designed to illuminate the launch pads at Cape Canaveral for night launches to the Moon. In the decades since, the film projector has been replaced by a digital projector with increased brightness and clarity while maintaining the crispness and complexity of projecting onto a curved surface. To receive that projection, the screen’s 400 perforated panels were replaced over a six-week span in 2018.
“In 32 years the OMNIMAX® world has changed and we have changed along with it,” added Duszynski, who has managed the theater since its opening. “The movies used to be captured and shown on film, and now they are captured with digital cameras and projected on-screen with the world’s greatest digital projector, using lasers as the light source. We have been able to stay state-of-the-art thanks to the ongoing support of the Robert D. Lindner family.”
Theatergoers can enjoy two films this winter, including Dinosaurs of Antarctica: The OMNIMAX® Film where prehistoric beasts thunder across the landscape, and the holiday favorite Rocky Mountain Express. Visit cincymuseum.org/omnimax for the latest films and showtimes.
The Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater by the numbers:
- 88 films – The OMNIMAX® Theater has shown 88 different films. To watch every film back-to-back it’d take nearly 2 ½ days!
- 2.5 miles – The original film reels contained roughly 13,400 feet of film, totaling almost 2.5 miles of film.
- 70 mm – The film stock used by the original OMNIMAX® projector was the largest in the world at 70mm, ten times larger than a conventional 35mm film frame.
- 200 pounds – Original OMNIMAX® film prints weighed 200 pounds. Digital films currently used come on a hard drive the size of a paperback novel.
- 30 degrees – The floor of the OMNIMAX® Theater is tilted at a 30-degree angle.
- 72 feet – The OMNIMAX® screen is 72 feet in diameter and five stories high.
- 30% – The domed OMNIMAX® screen is only 30% reflective, making it closer to black than white. The darker screen improves contrast.
- 15,000 watts – The OMNIMAX® Theater sound system has 15,000 watts of audio power, including 44 speakers in seven clusters, all of which are hidden behind the screen. The sound comes through because of the screen’s perforations that create a 22% void.
- National Parks Adventure was the last movie to play using film, in 2016.
- Volcanoes: Fires of Creation was the first movie to play digitally in 2018 when the theater reopen after Union Terminal’s restoration was completed.
About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized, award-winning institution housed in a National Historic Landmark. CMC is a vital community resource that sparks curiosity, inspiration, epiphany and dialogue. CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012, one of a select few museums in the nation to receive both honors. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Children’s Museum, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater, Cincinnati History Library and Archives and the Geier Collections and Research Center. Housed in historic Union Terminal – a National Historic Landmark restored in 2018 and recognized as the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects – CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually, making it one of the most visited museums in the country. For more information, visit www.cincymuseum.org.
About Champion More Curiosity
The $112 million Champion More Curiosity campaign is shaping Cincinnati Museum Center’s future while creating generations of critical thinkers to power the innovation of our region. By Championing More Curiosity and helping build the future of Cincinnati Museum Center, you can fuel the economic prosperity of our region. Champion More Curiosity will build or reimagine over a dozen permanent exhibits and galleries and equip state-of-the-art labs for cutting-edge research for students from elementary grades to post-docs. Today’s wide-eyed explorers will be tomorrow’s innovators. We work shoulder-to-shoulder to engage our community in monumental moments of epiphany, wonder and connection. As we inspire all generations to learn, grow and thrive at Cincinnati Museum Center, we Champion More Curiosity. Consider making a lifelong impact by donating in support of Champion More Curiosity at www.supportcmc.org.
Source: Cincinnati Museum Center