More than just a planetarium—more than just a museum—the Adler is a laboratory, a classroom, and a community. Each year, more than 550,000 visitors experience the museum’s interactive exhibitions, planetarium shows, hands-on, minds-on STEM education programs, and world-class collections. And it’s just a short trip from NEMA Chicago. The Adler is located on Lake Shore Drive in the Museum Campus, just minutes away from NEMA’s new apartments in Downtown Chicago.
Founded in 1930 by Chicago businessman Max Adler, the museum’s primary goal is the continued study of astronomy and astrophysics. Located at the tip of Northerly Island, the Adler still occupies its original award-winning, landmark building. A deceptively modest-looking structure, the museum boasts three full-size theaters along with a massive collection of antique scientific instruments and space science exhibits. The first planetarium in the United States, the Adler also includes the Doane Observatory, which is one of the few public urban and active research observatories.
Spend a day in the South Loop exploring the permanent displays but make sure you return for the special events and offerings. On the third Thursday of each month from 6-10 pm, adults 21+ are invited to participate in Adler After Dark. This event gives you open access to the planetarium, unlimited shows in the three theaters, and more. The theme changes every month, so book all 12 for a year’s worth of memorable nights out with a date, your family, or just for yourself. The educational lectures and hands-on programs will provide you with food for thought while the Doane Observatory lets you see the cosmos anew. Cocktails and other drinks are available at the bars, or you can grab dinner or a snack at Galileo’s Café.
For those looking to get more from the Adler’s “star” attraction, check out Doane at Dusk. The NEMA rentals in Downtown Chicago are just a short distance from Chicago’s largest aperture telescope, and Doane at Dusk provides a unique opportunity to use it to its fullest. See the grandeur of Jupiter and Saturn or get a view of the Moon that you never have before. You can also stay after hours for discussions with the planetarium’s astronomers. Best of all, Doane at Dusk is free. For a complete schedule, check out the Adler’s website.
Whether you’re a novice or an active researcher, Adler programs like the Kavli Fulldome Lecture Series will keep you updated about the current “state of the art” of astronomy. As part of this series, the Adler turns raw data into visual displays and uses domecast technology and YouTube 360 to reach people around the world. What you’ll discover is far more accessible than a scientific journal but deeper in content and more exhilarating than your daily paper or usual dose of popular science. Interactive Pop-Up Programs are also held “from time to time” throughout the museum.
As part of its community outreach, the Adler brings the museum outside and directly to the public with ‘Scopes in the City’. Led by Adler astronomers and staff, telescope observation teams visit various South Loop Chicago neighborhoods to engage people in observing celestial bodies. Times, dates, and locations, as well as weather, determine what will be seen. To get in on the action, follow them on Twitter at @AdlerPlanet or search #ScopesintheCity for updates.
With a wealth of programming and exhibits, the Adler is a treasure to experience again and again. And because it’s so close, you can enjoy it all at your leisure. Plan a visit and then plan another; there’s so much to see and do at this world-class hub of space exploration that you’ll find it even has the remarkable power to lure you from the comforts of your luxury home at NEMA Chicago.