A Visit to the Adler Planetarium

The Field Museum, John G. Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium Library Tour – Part 3 of 3

The third and final stop on the LISSA/SAA Museum Campus tour landed the group at the Adler Planetarium. FYI-If you haven’t been to the planetarium lately, you should go… it was amazing! Jill Hamrin Postma, Research Librarian at the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy led the way. You could just tell she loves her job by the enthusiasm heard in every word she spoke. “Collecting is very important,” says Postma, as she passionately believes that archives tell stories.

The Adler Planetarium Archive is a space of utter inspiration. There are rows of neatly organized boxes that house materials that are near and dear to the historians and archivists at the planetarium. Photographs are a big part of the collection, as well as souvenirs such as the entrance first ticket ever sold, personal scrapbooks, and a Frisbee with Adler Planetarium advertising on it. “These items,” Postma reminds us, “tell a story about the planetarium and the people who visit it…and they are all worth keeping.” Many historians come to the planetarium to write, surrounding themselves with these fascinating, historical objects, gracefully pulling out the many stories that lay within.

LISSA Member Julie James writes:

The Adler Planetarium has an objects-based collection, but also has many documents and monographs.  They have both library and archives who collaborate to build new collections, and get existing materials ready for exhibit.  Their current project is The Webster Story, an exhibit about a philanthropist couple who contributed a huge amount of objects and research.  If you visit Adler, you can view an exhibit of objects donated by the Websters, as well as a video that was put together by one of the librarians.  Other library projects are the history of Maude Bennot, the first female director of Adler (or any planetarium), the Hershel letters, and a collection about the extraterrestrial life debate.  We got to see how different objects are stored, which was quite different from the other book-based experiences.  The Adler is working to make more of its resources available online, including its catalog.

Additional pictures can be seen by visiting the LISSA Flickr set  — Adler PlanetariumIf you have any pictures you would like to add to the LISSA Flickr cloud… please email them to lissa@dom.edu — we would love to share them!

Again, thank you Jori for putting this tour together and thanks to Julie for your words… we all had a great time!


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