FROM the day it opened, the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium was in show business. In that fall of 1935, both tourists and New Yorkers waited in lines that stretched from the box office to the subway station nearly a block away.

After a couple of years, as the novelty wore off and crowds dwindled, Planetarium Chairman Robert Coles and his staff had to brush up on their showmanship. Not only did they revamp their programs; they also went to work on the halls and lobby. Where visitors once could examine meteorites...

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