Adjacent to the Adler Planetarium, Man Enters the Cosmos honors the golden years of astronomy, from 1930 to 1980. Located near two other astronomy-related artworks, the Nicolaus Copernicus Monument and Spiral Galaxy, the abstract sculpture is a thirteen-foot-tall equatorial sundial.
Henry Moore (1898–1986), one of the world’s most celebrated and prolific artists of the twentieth century, produced the sculpture. Between 1965 and 1967, Moore created his first sundial for the London Times Newspaper and a smaller one for his home at Much Hadham, Hertfordship, England. (The original London Times sundial was later sold to the IBM Corporation and remains in its second location near Brussels.) Although the Chicago sundial is nearly identical to the original one, it has some slight differences. Moore gave the bronze sculpture a subtly golden patina relating to the fifty year anniversary of modern astronomy. He also modified the sculpture to accommodate the ten degree difference in latitude between London and Chicago.
Following its creation, the B.F. Ferguson Fund donated Man Enters the Cosmos to the Chicago Park District. The Ferguson Fund had previously commissioned another outdoor sculpture by Moore, Nuclear Energy, which was installed in 1967, at the University of Chicago on the precise site of the world’s first controlled self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. There are other outdoor works by Moore in Chicago — Reclining Figure on the campus of the University of Chicago and Large Interior Form in Grant Park.