Doane Observatory Renovations

The Adler Planetarium's Doane Observatory

 In 2014, the Adler Planetarium undertook 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 Observatory is the only place in Chicago where the public can see planets, bright stars, and galaxies up-close and in person. Adler astronomers conduct frontier research on asteroids and black holes, and work with staff educators and teen docents to facilitate daytime and nighttime observing with the observatory’s robust 20-inch mirrored telescope. 

With a matching grant from the Illinois Public Museum Capital Grants Program, the Adler completed the first phase of the observatory’s renovation in Summer of 2014. With the addition of the Petrovich Family Observing Gallery and Lab, the museum added a dynamic multi-purpose workspace with heating and cooling systems and accessible entries, exits, and restrooms. This gallery is now home to the hundreds of Chicago teens the museum engages each year in hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEAM), and provides a unique public and private event space for museum guests.

With a $5 million campaign goal, Phase II of the renovation plans include the addition of an outdoor observation terrace, upgraded facilities and equipment, and the development of new visitor programming. 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 email

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


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