“Philanthropy,” said Thoreau, “is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind.”
Certainly all of Utah is the beneficiary of the charitable works of Mrs. Beatrice M. Hansen, who died this week in Salt Lake City at the age of 88.
~Obituary of Beatrice M. Hansen, Deseret News, 08-05-1981
Mrs. Beatrice M. Hansen (1891-1981), Salt Lake City resident and philanthropist, is well known for contributing the funds to found the Hansen Planetarium (now known as the Clark Planetarium).
The building that the Hansen Planetarium came to occupy was constructed in 1905 as the Salt Lake City Library, on land donated by John Q. Packard. Mr. Packard also paid to construct the building, with the provision that the building always house a library.
In 1964, Gail Plummer, President of the Salt Lake City Library Board, was able to push through the construction of a new City Library building, as the library had outgrown its current building. When the City Library moved to its new location on 200 East 500 South, it would leave the historic building vacant. Mr. Plummer had the idea to put a planetarium in the old library building.
Concerned about the fate of the old library building, Mrs. George T. Hansen called Mr. Plummer in March 1964 and asked what his plans were for the building. When Mr. Plummer told her about his idea, Mrs. Hansen called back with a donation of $400,000 to remodel the building and buy a star projector. The donation was officially accepted by the Salt Lake City Library Board on March 31, 1964.
The Planetarium opened on November 26, 1965, as the “Mr. and Mrs. George T. Hansen Planetarium, Space Science Library and Museum.”
Salt Lake County Archives is the home of the Hansen Planetarium Historical Records Collection, created at the time of the planetarium’s move to the new Clark Planetarium building in 2004.