Touch the Universe - Adler Planetarium

Chicago, IL



Touch the Universe utilizes 3D printed astrophysical objects in combination with visualizations to provide Adler Planetarium guests with a new way of exploring space concepts. It benefits guests with visual impairment and those that are primarily tactile learners, providing a pathway for deeper understanding of astrophysical concepts that are often only presented visually within the planetarium experience. This programming is delivered within Adler Planetarium’s Space Visualization Lab (SVL), a unique space where local astronomers and astrophysicists present their latest discoveries with breathtaking images, innovative data visualizations, and 3D video displays. Guests are invited to touch a vast array of 3D printed objects. While these objects investigated by the audience, SVL presenters deliver a narrative about each item, augmented by associated telescope images, simulation visualizations, and 3D movies.



  1. To encourage curiosity and exploration through multiple senses.

  2. Explore new avenues to present astrophysical data via 3D printed objects.

  3. Provide more opportunity for engagement among our guests that may be tactile learners or have visual impairment.


The program model targets audience of all demographics. Additionally, it benefits guests with visual impairment, and those that are primarily tactile learners.

Recommendations for future implementations

Be sure to begin experimenting with your 3D printer as soon as you can. Some of the more difficult objects will require a few iterations, making adjustments to your printer settings, in order to get things just right. Also, a number of the 3D printed objects will require some time to prepare for display. The Touch the Universe program model is very adaptable, and can be adjusted to suit your institutional needs.