Adler Planetarium, The Universe: A Walk Through Time and Space

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

This permanent exhibit examines space-time from the Big Bang to now, explaining theories on stars, planets, galaxies, and atoms. The goal is to express the mystery and vastness of space.

Small physical area was the main architectural challenge. The sense of endlessness and separation from the terrestrial world of the museum is achieved by shaping space ephemeral surfaces of fabric, light, darkness, and sound. You start at. At the Big Bang, just after the theoretical infinitely small space before time, pulses of light and sound entice visitors into a tunnel representing the expansion of space-time. Interactive floor projections and videos document the stages of the Universe. The tunnel is compressed at the opening, expanding as you move. This experience transforms your sense of place and scale, effectively separating you psychologically from the museum. At the end, a dramatic wall of images is revealed. This edgeless gallery is formed with scrim behind floating fabric screens showing user controlled views of the universe from microscopic to galactic.

The plan folds onto itself, forming a gallery of interactive stations, ingeniously returning to the start. Technology is integrated throughout to bring new life to a portion of the museum that had become stagnant.

Architect of record

David Steele
Muller&Muller, ltd.
700 N Sangamon
Chicago, IL 60618, USA
Phone: 312.432.4180x22
Fax: 312.432.4184

General contractor

Brian Hatlen
Troop Contracting, Inc.
648 Executive Drive
Willowbrook, IL 60527, USA
Phone: 773.525.0275

Consultant 1

Brian Dressel
M1 Interactive
1556 West Carroll Ave
Chicago, IL 60607, USA
Phone: 312.291.8068
Fax: USA

Consultant 2

Paul Fugihara
Outhouse Design
6052 N Hermitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60660, USA
Phone: 773.338.9554


John Faier
John Faier Photography
1366 W Huron
Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Phone: 312.733.8054