Simplified: The freshly renovated Wells Fargo Cinedome and Sweetman Planetarium at the Washington Pavilion is ready to show off what it can do. Here's what you need to know about the new facility and how to catch a free movie this weekend.

Why it matters

  • It all started with the largest single donation from an individual in Washington Pavilion history – a $2 million gift from Dick and Kathy Sweetman.
  • With that, the Pavilion was able to update the existing Cinedome with state-of-the-art technology to bring outer space exploration to Sioux Falls. The planetarium will have the ability to do laser shows, live feeds of space launches and nearly endless programming options.
  • Mayor Paul TenHaken lauded the donation and the resource the planetarium brings to the community in a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday. He cited the importance of private donors in bringing these amenities to town.
"The number of people who step up in this city ... it's not normal," TenHaken said. "This is really, really remarkable."

How can I catch a free show?

The planetarium officially opens to the public today (Friday) at 5 p.m. during Free First Friday.

  • Free showings of "Unseen Universe" will be seated on a first come, first served basis at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

There will also be hourly showings starting at 11 a.m. Saturday during the grand opening event sponsored by Aerostar.

"This planetarium is an incredible gift to our community," Pavilion President and CEO Darrin Smith said.