A view from the lagoon south of the Museum of Science and Industry
|Location||5700 South Lake Shore Drive
(at East 57th Street),
Chicago, Illinois, US, 60637
|Type||Science and technology museum|
|Public transit access||CTA Bus routes:
Routes 6 and 28
(to 56th Street and Hyde Park Boulevard)
(to Museum of Science and Industry)
(to Museum of Science and Industry)
55th–56th-57th Street Station
(between Stony Island and Lake Park Avenues)
|Designated||November 1, 1995|
The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is located in Chicago, Illinois, in Jackson Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood between Lake Michigan and The University of Chicago. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Initially endowed by Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck and Company president and philanthropist, it was supported by the Commercial Club of Chicago and opened in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition.
Among the museum's exhibits are a full-size replica coal mine, German submarine U-505 captured during World War II, a 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) model railroad, the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train (Pioneer Zephyr), and the Apollo 8 spacecraft that carried the first humans to orbit the Moon.
The Palace of Fine Arts (also known as the Fine Arts Building) at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was designed by Charles B. Atwood for D. H. Burnham & Co. Unlike the other "White City" buildings, it was constructed with a brick substructure under its plaster facade. After the World's Fair, it initially housed the Columbian Museum, which evolved into the Field Museum of Natural History. When the Field Museum moved to a new building near downtown Chicago in 1920, the former site was left vacant.
Art Institute of Chicago professor Lorado Taft led a public campaign to restore the building and turn it into another art museum, one devoted to sculpture. The South Park Commissioners (now part of the Chicago Park District) won approval in a referendum to sell $5 million in bonds to pay for restoration costs, hoping to turn the building into a sculpture museum, a technical trade school, and other things. However, after a few years, the building was selected as the site for a new science museum.
At this time, the Commercial Club of Chicago was interested in establishing a science museum in Chicago. Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck and Company president and philanthropist, energized his fellow club members by pledging to pay $3 million towards the cost of converting the Palace of Fine Arts (Rosenwald eventually contributed more than $5 million to the project). During its conversion into the MSI, the building's exterior was re-cast in limestone to retain its 1893 Beaux Arts look. The interior was replaced with a new one in Art Moderne style designed by Alfred P. Shaw.
Rosenwald established the museum organization in 1926 but declined to have his name on the building. For the first few years, the museum was often called the Rosenwald Industrial Museum. In 1928, the name of the museum was officially changed to the Museum of Science and Industry. Rosenwald's vision was to create a museum in the style of the Deutsches Museum in Munich, which he had visited in 1911 while in Germany with his family.
Sewell Avery, another businessman, had supported the museum within the Commercial Club and was selected as its first president of the board of directors. The museum conducted a nationwide search for the first director. MSI's Board of Directors selected Waldemar Kaempffert, then the science editor of The New York Times, because he shared Rosenwald's vision.
He assembled the museum's curatorial staff and directed the organization and construction of the exhibits. In order to prepare the museum, Kaempffert and his staff visited the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the Science Museum in Kensington, and the Technical Museum in Vienna, all of which served as models. Kaempffert was instrumental in developing close ties with the science departments of the University of Chicago, which supplied much of the scholarship for the exhibits. Kaempffert resigned in early 1931 amid growing disputes with the second president of the board of directors; they disagreed over the objectivity and neutrality of the exhibits and Kaempffert's management of the staff.
The new Museum of Science and Industry opened to the public in three stages between 1933 and 1940. The first opening ceremony took place during the Century of Progress Exposition. Two of the museum's presidents, a number of curators and other staff members, and exhibits came to MSI from the Century of Progress event.
For years, visitors entered the museum through its original main entrance, but that entrance became no longer large enough to handle an increasing volume of visitors. The newer main entrance is a structure detached from the main museum building, through which visitors descend into an underground area and re-ascend into the main building, similar to the Louvre Pyramid.
In 1983, due to increased attendance, the museum started construction of its underground parking lot, located in three underground levels below the front lawn. The museum would finish construction in the 1990s.
For over 55 years, admission to the MSI was free. Fees were first charged in the early 1990s, with general admission rates increasing from $13 in 2008 to $18 in 2015. Many "free days"—for Illinois residents only—are offered throughout the year.
The museum has over 2,000 exhibits, displayed in 75 major halls. The museum has several major permanent exhibits. Access to several of the exhibits (including the Coal Mine and U-505) requires the payment of an additional fee.
In keeping with Rosenwald's vision, many of the exhibits are interactive, ranging from "Genetics: Decoding Life", which looks at how genetics affect human and animal development as well as containing a chick hatchery composed of an incubator where baby chickens hatch from their eggs and a chick pen for those that have already hatched, as well as housing genetically modified frogs, mice, and drought resistant plants. "ToyMaker 3000", is a working assembly line which lets visitors order a toy top and watch as it is made. The interactive "Fab Lab MSI" is intended as an interactive lab where members can "build anything".
The "Coal Mine" re-creates a working deep-shaft, bituminous coal mine inside the museum's Central Pavilion, using original equipment from Old Ben #17 circa 1933. It is one of the oldest exhibits at the museum.
German submarine U-505 is one of just two German submarines captured during World War II, and, since its arrival in 1954, the only one on display in the Western Hemisphere. The U-boat was newly restored beginning in 2004 and moved indoors as "The New U-505 Experience" on June 5, 2005.
The Transportation Zone contains several permanent exhibits.
The museum includes a replica of Stephenson's Rocket, which was the first steam locomotive to exceed 25 miles per hour.
The 999 Empire State Express steam locomotive, the museum claims, is the first vehicle to exceed 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).[a] The locomotive was once exhibited outside the museum grounds, until 1993, when extensive restoration took place, and is exhibited in the Transportation Zone.
A model of the Wright Brothers first airplane is on display.
Two World War II warplanes are also exhibited. Both were donated by the British government: a German Ju 87 R-2/Trop. Stuka divebomber—one of only two intact Stukas left in the world—and a British Supermarine Spitfire. Also on display is the museum's Travel Air Type R Mystery Ship, nicknamed "Texaco 13", which set many world records in flying.
The first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel train, the Pioneer Zephyr, is on permanent display in the Great Hall, renamed the Entry Hall in 2008. The train was once displayed outdoors, and restored and placed in the former Great Hall during the construction of the museum's underground parking lot. Today, a complimentary tour goes through it every 10–20 minutes.
A F-104 Starfighter on loan to MSI from the US Air Force since 1978 was sent to the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas in 1993. In March 1995, Santa Fe Steam Locomotive 2903 was moved from outside the museum to the Illinois Railway Museum.
A second transportation gallery is located on the museum's west wing, containing models of "Ships Through the Ages" and several historic racing cars.
MSI's Henry Crown Space Center includes the Apollo 8 spacecraft, which flew the first mission beyond low earth orbit to the Moon, enabling its crew, Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders, to become the first human beings to see the Earth as a whole, as well as becoming the first to view the Moon up close (as well as the first to view its far side). Other exhibits include Scott Carpenter's Mercury-Atlas 7 spacecraft, a Mars Rover (which you can actually control), a lunar module trainer and a life-size mockup of Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Located in the Henry Crown Space Center is an OmniMax theater, considered to be the only domed theater in Chicago. The screen of the OmniMax theater is made of aluminum, allowing the speakers to be heard around the theater.
In March 2010, the museum opened "Science Storms" in the Allstate Court, as a permanent exhibit. This multilevel exhibit features a 40-foot (12 m) water vapor tornado, tsunami tank, Tesla coil, heliostat system, and a Wimshurst machine built by James Wimshurst in the late 19th century. Also housed are Newton's Cradle, the color spectrum, and Foucault pendulum. All artifacts allow guests to explore the physics and chemistry of the natural world.
The museum is also known for unique and quirky permanent exhibits, such as a walk-through model of the human heart, which was removed in 2008 for the construction of "YOU! the Experience", which replaced it with a 13-foot-tall (4.0 m), interactive, 3D heart. Also well known are the "Body Slices" (two cadavers exhibited in 1⁄2-inch-thick (13 mm) slices) in the exhibit.
In spring 2013, the "Art of the Bicycle" exhibit opened, showcasing history of the bicycle, and how modern bikes are still continuing to evolve.
Other exhibits include "Yesterday's Mainstreet", a mock-up of a Chicago street from the early 20th century, complete with a cobblestone roadway, old-fashioned light fixtures, fire hydrants, and several shops, including the precursors to several Chicago-based businesses. Included are:
Unlike the other shops, Finnigan's Ice Cream Parlor and The Nickelodeon Cinema can be entered and are functional. Finnigan's serves an assortment of ice cream and The Cinema plays short silent films throughout the day.
The "FarmTech" exhibit showcases modern agricultural techniques and how farmers use modern technology like GPS systems to improve work on the farm, and includes a tractor and a combine harvester from John Deere. The exhibit also showcases a greenhouse, a mock up of a kitchen showcasing much the foods we eat is soybean, and how we use cows, from energy to what we drink.
Other upper level exhibits include "Reusable City", which focuses on recycling and other methods that could cut down harmful pollution and especially climate change and the Regenstein Hall of Science, containing a giant periodic table of the elements. Other main level exhibits include: "Fast Forward", which features some aspects of how technology will change in the future; "NetWorld", which focuses on the Internet and how it connects society together; "Earth Revealed", featuring a "Science on a Sphere" holographic globe; and a "Whispering Gallery".
"Future Energy Chicago" shows alternative resources, housing developments, and the future of Chicago. The exhibit requires an additional fee.
Some areas in the museum aim for younger children, including the "Swiss Jollyball", the world's largest pinball machine built by a British man from Switzerland using nothing but salvaged junk; the "Idea Factory", a toddler water table play area; and the "Circus", featuring animated dioramas of a miniature circus as well as containing a shadow garden and several funhouse mirrors.
Silent-film star and stock-market investor Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle "dolls house" is on display.
Yearly, from late December to early January, the museum hosts its Christmas Around the World Exhibit, having Christmas trees from different cultures from around the world. Started in 1942, with just one tree, honoring soldiers fighting in WW2, the tradition spawned into more than 50 trees.
In addition to its three floors of standing exhibits, the museum hosts temporary and traveling exhibitions. Exhibitions last for five months or less and usually require a separate paid admission fee. Exhibitions at MSI have included Titanic: The Exhibition, which was the largest display of relics from the wreck of RMS Titanic, in 2000; Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds, a view into the human body through use of plastinated human specimens in 2005; also in 2005 was Game On, which features the history and culture of video games; and Leonardo da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius in the summer of 2006. Past temporary exhibitions include CSI: The Experience, Robots Like Us, City of the Future, Canstruction and Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination,and The Glass Experience. Harry Potter: The Exhibition ran from April to September 2009. The fourth installment of Smart Home: Green + Wired reopened in March 2011 and ran through January 2012, featuring the work of green architect Michelle Kaufmann. In May 2015, the Robot Revolution exhibit opened, which is sponsored by Google.org and features numerous hands-on demonstrations and advice from experts for prospective future robot scientists and engineers.
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