Adler Planetarium

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As America’s first-ever planetarium, the mission of the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum is to “inspire exploration and understanding of our universe.” Throughout the years, this Chicago cultural institution has done exactly that, spreading knowledge and a healthy awe of our universe while keeping fun and entertainment center stage.

Adler Planetarium History

When it first opened its doors on 12 May 1930, the Adler Planetarium was already in the books of history as America and the Western Hemispehere’s first planetarium. The idea for this center dedicated to man’s small role in the greater universe was the product of Chicago philanthropist Max Adler, for which the building is named.

Adler felt that the popular concept of the universe at the time was far too meager given the advances in science and what was known about the greater universe. He lamented at the planetarium’s opening that knowledge of stars and planets was not part of the general population’s education and hoped that the opening of this planetarium would usher in a new era of astronomical enlightenment stating:

In our reflections, we dwell too little upon the concept that the world and all human endeavor within it are governed by established order and too infrequently upon the truth that under the heavens everything is interrelated, even as each of us to the other.

Since its opening, the Adler Planetarium has lived up to the dreams of its first benefactor, paving the way for planetariums across the country and, indeed, the world. The Adler Planetarium is located on Shore Drive and is part of Chicago’s famed “Museum Campus,” along with the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. Along with these other institutions, the Adler is a bastion of culture for this city and a popular destination for visitors and locals alike.

The Adler Planetarium is also well known for its stunning architecture; it won the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal in 1931 (Chicago Chapter). The building was designed by Ernest A. Grunsfeld, Jr. and named a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Main Attraction

Checking in at over 35,000 square feet of exhibition space, there is a little bit of something for everyone in the family at the Adler Planetarium. This includes everything from scale models of our Solar System to interactive adventures, ancient instruments used in the study of astronomy, and rare books about the study of the stars.

In addition, the Adler Planetarium still holds a world record as the only planetarium to feature two full-size planetarium theatres. The first, the Sky Theatre, is the original 1930 attraction. Added to that is the state-of-the-art StarRider Theatre equipped with Digistar 3TM technology. This second option offers visitors an all-digital and virtual experience of outer space that is unmatched at any other planetarium in the U.S. or worldwide.

Additional attractions at Adler include two stories of exhibits and activities, specialized tours, as well as a store and café. Special events at the Adler include Adler After Dark, taking place every third Thursday of the month. This is a special afterhours opening for those 21+ which includes cocktails and live music along with unmatched views of the Chicago skyline. There are also group rates and educational opportunities which include field trips, professional development, teacher resources, and outreach. Spaces in the facility can also be rented out for corporate events and include the same stunning views as well as catering services.

Why the Adler Planetarium is a Must-See

The experience of any planetarium is a truly special and unique one for children and adults alike, and the options at the Adler are no different. As the Western Hemisphere’s first planetarium, the Adler is a piece of history as well as an entertaining destination for all ages when in the Chicago area.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.

Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from Adler Planetarium either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. The Adler Planetarium is available on the Go Chicago Card and Chicago CityPass..