While the Adler Planetarium may not seem like an obvious candidate to be a part of the Festival of Maps, it only takes a few minutes in touring the exhibit to be proven wrong. “Mapping the Universe” shows an array of mapping treasures that, in some cases, have never been publicly shown until now. One such artifact is a celestial globe, which stands over six feet in height and features gold leaf stars contrasting against the blue globe. A very dramatic and unique work, it is the rightful centerpiece of the exhibit. With the goal being to show “that science is not divorced from other areas of life,” as described by Dr. Marvin Bolt, the vice president of collections at the Adler, the exhibit does an excellent job of displaying the evolution of the universe as we understand it and also making it tangible. If that isn’t enough, the adjacent Space Visualization Laboratory will certainly please the kids even more. Essentially a testing grounds for future exhibits, the SVL boasts an immersive “Visionstation” with a video game-like interface that allows the user to have a virtual interstellar experience. Using a wide network of resources from universities to NASA information, SVL offers a cutting-edge experience that “offers something beyond what is available at home,” Dr. Doug Roberts, an astronomer who is heavily involved in SVL, explains. This exhibit is just another feather in Adler’s respective cap. (Thomas Barbee)
“Mapping the Universe” runs through January 27, 2008, at the Adler Planetarium, 1300 South Lake Shore, (312)922-7827.