Lecture Exhibition: Planetary Imagery and Theodora Allen’s Cosmic Garden I

6:00–7:00 pm Driehaus Museum

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In her work, Cosmic Garden I, artist Theodora Allen visualizes a sinking planet partially obscured by plants and wildflowers. The image of Saturn and its ethereal rings has captivated scientists, artists, and the public since the earliest days of photography, reaching new heights during the period between the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933.

In this conversation, Adler Planetarium Curator and Director of Collections Pedro Raposo and University of Chicago Professor Emeritus of Astronomy & Astrophysics Richard Kron will explore the imagery of the cosmos as a source of fascination, influence, and exploration across art and science during a time of rapid expansion in scientific knowledge, where the representation of astronomical themes signaled ideas about modernity, progress, and the promise of the future. The program will be illustrated with early astronomical photographs, as well as design and architectural elements from the era between the two world fairs.

About Our Speakers

Richard Kron, PhD University of California Berkeley, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. He currently leads the Dark Energy Survey, an international collaboration of scientists that is charting how the Universe has expanded over cosmic time by measuring large samples of galaxies and supernovae. He is also exploring the century-old photographic plates archived at Yerkes Observatory to assess the scientific value of the collection, how these unique objects can be digitized, and how the images and the stories behind them can be made accessible to astronomers, artists, and the general public.

Pedro M. P. Raposo, DPhil University of Oxford, is Curator and Director of Collections at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where he oversees world-class collections of astronomical instruments, prints, and rare books. He has published on topics such as the history of nineteenth-century astronomical observatories, astronomy and empire, the history of modern planetaria, and the concept of discovery in astronomy. Raposo has acted as content expert and curator for several exhibitions, including ‘What is a Planet?’, which was awarded the First Prize in the 2016 Great Exhibitions competition of the British Society for the History of Science. Raposo is also co-chair of the Collections, Archives, Libraries and Museums (CALM) Caucus of the History of Science Society and Secretary of the Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science.

Event Type


May 19