Adler Planetarium

Chicago’s Observatory


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 observatory’s 20-inch mirrored telescope gathers up to 5,000 times more light than the unaided human eye, and 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 and the inability to open the observatory independent of the main building significantly limits the ways the museum serves 21st-century audiences. Last year, Adler Trustees launched a campaign to raise $5 million for the first renovation of the observatory since it opened 37 years ago.

A two-phased funding and renovation effort, the Adler broke ground on the first phase in May 2014. A $1 million project, this initial modernization will be complete in early November. When the observatory reopens to the public this Fall, it will feature a brand-new basic gallery and lab space, accessible restrooms, energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems, and new entrances and exits.

Fundraising for the second phase of the renovation will continue through 2016, with the goal of securing an additional $4.2 million to transform the observatory into a public lakeside destination offering regular public observing opportunities, hands-on youth programming, and an unparalleled special event space.

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.