Adler Planetarium, the first modern planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, has inspired exploration and understanding of the universe since it opened in 1930. At the Adler, visitors have access to a vast collection of historical scientific instruments, as well as a collection of rare and modern books, works on paper, photography, paintings, models and archives.
Home to artifacts like the world’s oldest known window sundial from 1529 and a telescope made by William Herschel, Adler Planetarium connects visitors with space science exhibits, artifacts and more that bring the planets, stars and galaxies all within reach.
The architecture of Adler Planetarium makes this building a work of art, not just a museum. Ernest A. Grunsfeld Jr. designed the 12-sided art deco building with a dome in 1930, and his work garnered a gold medal from the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Decades later in 1987, the Adler was declared a National Historic Landmark. In the 1990s, a new steel and glass structure similar to a pyramid was added, providing picturesque views of Lake Michigan from inside.
Visitors can take in nearly a dozen science and space exhibits during a single visit to the Adler. In the Mission Moon exhibit, learn how the U.S. put the first man on the moon and what it’s like to be an astronaut. You can also explore how other cultures such as ancient Egypt and medieval Europe worked to understand their place in the universe. Or you can check out the Community Design Lab, a hands-on creative space that helps you think about science in new ways.
The domed theaters at Adler Planetarium offer visitors an unprecedented theater experience for a planetarium. In the Grainger Sky Theater, you can take a tour of the Solar System through the live Destination Solar System show. Don’t miss Skywatch Live! in the Definiti Space Theater, which uses real-time digital graphics technology to create an accurate scientific simulation of the night sky.
Depending on your travel dates, you may have the chance to take in one of the unique special events offered at the Adler. With Astro-Overnights, kids ages 6 to 12 and their families can spend an evening under the stars. The 21-plus crowd can enjoy drinks and the impressive views of the Chicago skyline at the monthly Adler After Dark get-together. Yogis can even enjoy a weekend yoga class in the Grainger Sky Theater.
With multiple pass options to customize your visit and easy access by public transit, the Adler Planetarium rounds out a list of must-see sites during your time in Chicago.
If you are in Chicago for several days and want to explore other museums, take advantage of GoCard packages which can save you up to 55% off general admission to all major attractions and museums. For more information, visit our tours page.