Time of Our Lives: Sundials of the Adler Planetarium
Since it opened in 1930 as America’s ﬁrst planetarium, the Adler Planetarium has been a place of exploration of space and the skies. Founder Max Adler’s vision was to provide Chicago with a museum that inspired contemplation of the majesty of the heavens and the order of the universe. The vision was developed with the Planetarium’s founding director Phillip Fox. Essential to this vision was an inspiring collection of historic objects to be part of the new museum: an initial collection of about 500 objects purchased from Anton W. M. Mensing, director of the Müller Auction House in Amsterdam, in 1929. It formed the core of the Adler Planetarium collection. To this day, the Adler Planetarium continues to collect, conserve, research, and interpret historically signiﬁcant artifacts that relate to the exploration of the universe, the history of astronomy, and the ways that all humans have looked to the sky.
This book is the third in a series of publications exploring the collections of the Adler Planetarium. The ﬁrst two books catalogued the Adler’s important collection of astrolabes. The ﬁrst book, written in 1998 by Marjorie and Roderick Webster, explored the Adler’s collection of Western Astrolabes. This was followed in 2009 by a book on Eastern Astrolabes by David Pingree. Time of Our Lives sheds light on another core strength of the Adler’s collections: sundials, which are approached here not as antiquarian curiosities or just exquisite tools, but rather as historically and culturally contextualized artifacts that testify to changes in society, knowledge, aesthetics, and above all, in the deep and complex human relationship with time, which has long kept us connected to the sky above.
By Sara Schechner, Ph.D with The Adler Planetarium.