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Adler Planetarium


In 2004, new visualization technologies were promising to render real and computer-generated images of the universe in unprecedented scope and detail. At the same time, the U.S. was facing a decline in youth science literacy while the demand for a new generation of scientists and engineers was increasing.

On its 75th anniversary, the Adler announced a new vision: to inspire the next generation of explorers and become the world’s premier space science center.

The museum unveiled a bold strategic plan to transform the country’s first planetarium into a 21st century space center that captivates visitors, immerses youth in the wonders of science, and conducts research into urgent astronomical questions.


The Adler Planetarium planned Lift Off! The Campaign for Chicago’s Space Center to realize this vision and recruited NASA astronaut Jim Lovell to lead the effort. The Adler had conducted smaller fundraising campaigns before, but Lift-Off! was by far the most ambitious funding effort in the museum’s history.

To ensure the campaign proceeded on course, Campbell & Company provided ongoing strategic counsel. Our work helped the Adler lay out the campaign roadmap, foster effective collaboration between the Board and executive leadership, train volunteer staff, and develop cultivation and solicitation strategies for leadership and major gift prospects.

“We're grateful to our partners at Campbell & Company for helping us focus the museum's community on a new vision as expressed by the Lift-Off! Campaign, our largest-ever funding initiative."

– Charles Katzenmeyer, Former Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Adler Planetarium

With a year remaining, Lift-Off! was just shy of reaching its initial $35 million goal. To capitalize on this remarkable momentum, campaign leaders raised the goal to $40 million. On the morning of the campaign’s close, attainment stood at $51.1 million, but, in a matter of hours, a $2.5 million capstone commitment pushed the total to $53.6 million.

Beyond the numbers, the Lift-Off! campaign resulted in a higher profile and a more generous and committed Board. It also enabled the Adler to engage a new generation of donors in its work.