Most cultural institutions begin because of lofty ideals. Someone wants to make the world a better place by enriching the experiences of others, usually through art, in all its forms; beauty; and understanding. By the mid-1920s, Chicago was already the beneficiary of several philanthropically-minded souls, and it had an art museum, an opera company, an orchestra, and a museum of natural history, all of which were recognized and respected. These institutions instilled wonder and could take a person beyond the hum-drum of daily life, opening whole new worlds. When Max Adler decided the city needed a planetarium, his ideals were even loftier than most. Some might even say they were astronomical.
In 1930, few people had seen a planetarium. That’s because they were brand-spanking new: Carl Zeiss invented a projector that would display an accurate image of stars and planets on a dome in 1923 and Munich’s Deutsches Museum opened the first planetarium the same year. This was the same museum whose hands-on exhibits, including a working coal mine, had so intrigued Julius Rosenwald’s son that the Sears magnate decided to create an interactive science museum. When a friend of Max Adler’s gave him a brochure about the new planetaria in the German museum, he was intrigued; as a recently-retired executive who’d made millions, he could do something about that curiosity.
Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.
Architect: Ernest Grunsfeld Jr.
Address: 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Sources for Adler Planetarium
This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.
- Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum, and Philip Fox. Adler Planetarium And Astronomical Museum: An Account of the Optical Planetarium And a Brief Guide to the Museum. Chicago: The Lakeside press, R.R. Donnelley & sons co., 1933.
- Bregstone, Philip Pollack, 1866-. Chicago And Its Jews: a Cultural History. [Chicago]: Priv. pub, 1933.
- Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-1934 : Chicago, Ill.). Official Book of the Fair: an Introduction to a Century of Progress International Exposition, Chicago June 1–November 1, 1933. 2nd ed. Chicago: A Century of Progress, 1933.
- The Chicago Park District: History, Background, Organization. [Chicago, Ill.: Bureau of Parks, 1936.
- City Club of Chicago. The City Club Bulletin. Chicago: The Club, V. 22 – 23 1929 – 1930.
- Downs, Winfield Scott, 1895-. Encyclopedia of American Biography: New Series. New York: American Historical Society.
- Dwyer, Orville. “Golden Wedding to be Observed by Max Adlers.” Chicago Tribune, 7 Sep 1947.
- Wacker, Charles H. (Charles Henry), 1856-1929, Chicago Plan Commission, and United States. War Dept. Address of Charles H. Wacker, Chairman, Chicago Plan Commission, In Favor of the Petition of the South Park Commissioners to the United States Government for Permission to Create a Park Along the Lake Front of Chicago Between Grant Park And Jackson Park. [Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Plan Commission], 1913.