Its predecessor was the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, which opened on October 24, 1939. The Buhl Planetarium was the fifth major planetarium in the United States, and was popular for several decades. However, by the 1980s it had begun to show signs of age. An expansion was ruled out, so the Institute was relocated to the Chateau neighborhood. However, it became apparent to the Buhl Institute that the relocation efforts would require more staffing than they were able to provide. At this point, the Carnegie Institute (under the leadership of Robert Wilburn) stepped in, showing interest in merging with the Buhl Institute. Both parties agreed to the merger in 1987. On October 5, 1989, construction began on the $40 million building, which was renamed the Carnegie Science Center as a result of the merger. The Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory was reinvented in this new facility. The Center opened in October 1991.
The Carnegie Science Center is the most visited museum in Pittsburgh. It has four floors of interactive exhibits. Among its attractions are the Buhl Planetarium (which features the latest in digital projection technology), the Rangos Omnimax Theater (promoted as "the biggest screen in Pittsburgh"), SportsWorks, the Miniature Railroad & Village, the USS Requin (a World War IIsubmarine) and roboworld, touted as "the world's largest permanent robotics exhibition." The roboworld exhibition contains more than 30 interactive displays featuring "all things robotic", and is also the first physical home for Carnegie Mellon University’s Robot Hall of Fame.
The roboworld area is the first-floor attraction at the Carnegie Science Center. It is touted as "the world's largest permanent robotics exhibition", with more than 30 interactive displays featuring "all things robotic".
The first robot encounter in roboworld is Andy Roid, The Robothespian. He is an interactive, animatronic robot that introduces visitors to the concepts of robotic sensing, thinking, and acting. The area's other exhibits showcase different types of robots, and videos containing more information about them.
The E-motion cone is a white-colored, inverted cone which sits atop the Science Center building. It was installed in 2000. At night, it is lit with different colors, signalling the weather forecast for the coming day.