Adler Planetarium

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Making Over the Doane


In 2013, the Adler Planetarium announced plans to undertake the first major renovation of the Doane Observatory. Built in 1977, the observatory houses one of the nation’s few science-quality telescopes located in a major city, and at an institution dedicated to engaging the public in science.

The Doane features a 20-inch mirrored telescope that can gather up to 5,000 times more light than the unaided human eye. This telescope enables Adler astronomers to conduct frontier research on asteroids and black holes, and work with staff educators and teen docents to facilitate day and evening observing for a limited number of visitors.

Currently, the lack of public space, heating and cooling systems, and restrooms significantly limits the observatory’s impact on 21st-century audiences. With a matching grant from the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program in early 2013, Adler leaders announced the museum would undertake the first major renovation of the Doane since it opened.

Through a two-phased funding effort, the museum is currently seeking philanthropic support for this important project. With the matching funds secured for the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program, in Summer 2014, the Adler will break ground on the first phase of the renovation project. This phase includes the addition of a simple indoor classroom, a restroom, HVAC systems, accessible entry ramps, and telescope and technology upgrades.

Fundraising for the second phase of the Doane Observatory Renovation will continue through 2016, with the goal of securing an additional $4.2 million for a multi-purpose visitor and private event facility and lab space for the Adler’s thriving teen community, the Lakeside Observation Deck, and expanded programming and endowment support.

Join America’s First Planetarium in creating a 21st-century observatory that will engage generations of visitors in the awe-inspiring experience of looking up! To learn more about the Adler’s efforts to transform the Doane Observatory into a premier public observing facility, please call the Adler Advancement Office at 312.542.2419 or email

This special initiative is being led by the Adler Board of Trustees and chaired by Trustee Jeff Rothstein.