Tucked away on the northeastern corner of Northerly Island, overlooking Lake Michigan, sits Chicago hidden gem Adler Planetarium. More than 85 years ago, Chicago native and retired-Sears executive-turned-philanthropist Max Adler became enamored with a German planetarium and initiated the construction of what would become the United States’ first planetarium. Adler boasts three full-size theaters, a newly renovated observatory and a U.S. National Historic Landmark title, but perhaps what exceedingly all visitors flock to most, is the waterfront gift shop, Adler Store.
Planetarium store director Tatiana Ivancevich sat down with Museums & More to talk about her fresh-faced role and what makes this shop so spectacular.
“We want to create an immersive environment that allows guests to continue on their Adler journey, creating a space and place that (they) can interact with us and the product to further enhance their experience and Adler’s mission of inspiring exploration and understanding of our universe,” said Ivancevich. “I lead the store team for the Adler gift shop, with a primary focus on providing the best possible experience for all guests that visit.”
The Adler Store attractively plays into the overall mission of the planetarium by offering plenty of products that are an extension of the experience in one way or another. This could be a logoed item that a guest can take home to remind them of their visit, or an educational item that allows them to learn more about something they saw, read or experienced during the visit.
So, what can they experience during their visit? In addition to the interactive solar system display, a guided tour of the Atwood Sphere to identify constellations and various permanent and temporary exhibits, Adler Planetarium regularly hosts events like Doane at Dusk, where visitors have the ability to see various celestial objects from the Doane Observatory; Adler After Dark, open access to the planetarium after work; and yoga under the stars in Grainger Sky Theater.
For all of these exhibits and events, you can find a fitting souvenir at Adler Store. “Our buyers look first and foremost for items that will extend the mission of Adler, but that are also unique in their own right and support conservation initiatives to help preserve our planet for future generations,” said Ivancevich.
Perhaps one of the most abundant products on the store’s shelves are books. Books are the No. 4 department behind apparel, souvenir and toys, and the staff strives to provide a unique assortment that complements and further enhances the educational messaging of the planetarium. They provide a selection that will offer educational information about the exhibit or exhibits that were of interested to each individual.
Whatever it is that draws you to America’s oldest planetarium and Chicago’s most prized possession, Adler Store carries a token of the visit, and is sure to continue the lessons long after you’ve left.