What’s your Moonshot?

Erin Wilson Senior Director of Marketing
Lauren Asta (left) and Shawn Smith (right) pose with their completed Moonshot Murals painted by Adler guests during Moon Bash on July 20, 2019.

Header Image: Lauren Asta (left) and Shawn Smith (right) pose with their completed “Moonshot Murals” painted by Adler guests during Moon Bash on July 20, 2019


Brushes were poised and the smell of spray paint began to permeate the air. The sound of the small metal ball inside the aerosol can rattled around as the artist contemplated her next mark. 

The artist in this case was a 65-year-old woman named Rita who hadn’t painted in decades. She was one of the 25 people who joined us that night at the Humboldt Park Library—our first stop of seven during our “Chicago Moonshot Mural Project” earlier this summer.

Rita from Humboldt Park paints her name. Her contribution to the Humboldt Park Moonshot Mural.
Rita from Humboldt Park paints her name. Her contribution to the Humboldt Park “Moonshot Mural.”

As the senior director of marketing at the Adler, I am involved in a lot of unique projects, but few have brought me as much joy and fulfillment as this project that we did leading up to the 50th anniversary of humanity’s first steps on the Moon.

In celebration of the feat of Apollo 11 and the hundreds of thousands of people it took to achieve the country’s “Moonshot”—something thought to be impossible, but that can, with teamwork and determination, be realized—we declared a Moonshot of our own: What if we partnered with local street artists to help Chicago neighborhoods visualize their own Moonshots for the future?

So that’s just what we did.

Thirteen street artists, six Chicago Public Library events, one Adler Moon Bash, and more than 200 participants contributed to each community’s “Moonshot Mural”—a 60×40 line art canvas drawn by a prominent Chicago street artist and painted by neighborhood residents.

The end result was nothing short of magical. West Englewood residents made their mark on “Safer streets” by Anthony Lewellen (aka @antckone) and “More education, earning diplomas, and degrees,” by Don’t Fret Art. With help from artist Matthew Mederer, the residents of Lincoln Square dreamt of more public art and a spotlight on the area’s history.

A picture of West Englewood you painting a canvas that says, "Be the change you want to be," by street artist, Don't Fret.
“Be the change you want to be,” by street artist, Don’t Fret at West Englewood Public Library.

While only a couple hundred people contributed to our neighborhood Moonshots, they looked just like the hundreds of thousands of people who put Neil Armstrong on the Moon 50 years ago. Residents of all ages and abilities, families and individuals, artists and non-artists alike came together; It was a beautiful gathering of humanity at every location.

An Adler guest takes in the Chicago Moonshot Murals now on display at the Planetarium.
An Adler guest takes in the “Chicago Moonshot Murals” now on display at the Planetarium.

To the residents of the participating communities, thank you. Thank you for celebrating this milestone in history with us and believing in the power of possibility and teamwork. And thank you to Rita. The childlike grin that spread across your face as you left your mark on “Your personal Moonshot” by Keith Smith (aka @afrokilla) and the hug that you gave me as you left our event that night were definitely highlights in my Adler career.

See the creativity of our Chicagoland neighbors in the “Moonshot Murals” currently on display in the hallway next to Our Solar System during your next visit:

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Erin Wilson Senior Director of Marketing

Erin Wilson isn’t an astronomer, she doesn’t come from the museum world, and before starting at the Adler Planetarium, she knew nothing about space, but a lot has changed in the last 5 years. Although still not an astronomer, as senior director of marketing, Erin loves showing people (including her three small children) why space is freaking awesome.

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