Museum of Science and Industry – Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, became the first home of the Field Museum of Natural History. Due to its unique steel skeleton and brick interior walls, the building is the only one to remain out of the 200 plaster of Paris (staff) structures from the Exposition. After a period of vacancy for ten years, the MSI was rebuilt in stone and opened in 1931. Today, it is a Chicago legend and national landmark, an integral part of the history of Hyde Park.

The MSI has over 3,000 exhibits, many of which have been in place for decades. The U-505, a German submarine captured on June 4, 1944 off the coast of Africa with depth charges from the USS Chatelain, was brought to the MSI 10 years later. The large display and newsreel footage bring to life the historical significance of the underwater conflict at that time. It is now a national memorial to the 55,000 American sailors who lost their lives at sea during WWI and WWII. The realistic tour, $69.00 for adults and $59.00 for children, runs every other Sunday from July through December and includes breakfast and a talk. The U-505, the only German U-boat in the U.S., is a must-see attraction at the MSI.

Another permanent attraction at the MSI is the 25-minute simulated tour through a 1934 Coal Mine. Other tours and exhibits include the Zephyr train, a simulated flight of a 727 from San Francisco to Chicago, displays of magnets, robots, and genetics, and the computer interactive screens of Networld. In addition, biology, physics, and chemistry demonstrations are scheduled daily.

The MSI has several attractions for children with the Farm, a chicken hatchery, and an Idea Factory of play equipment. Visitors also enjoy Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, a miniature palace filled with real jewels and the exhibit of Human Body Slices, with pieces of real cadavers. A fairly new addition to the MSI is the Henry Moore Space Center, where a simulated space flight takes place at the 5-story OMNIMAX Theater. The theater seats over 342 and has been visited by approximately 10.4 million people since its opening. Another favorite exhibit is the Chorus of Frogs, a tour for $5.00 that features 150 poisonous and non-poisonous species from around the world in their natural habitats. The Museum also has a food court, an ice cream parlor, and a gift shop.

Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day — Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Early September to late May: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.

Admission:

Museum only: Adults $11.00, seniors $9.50, and children 3-11 $7.00, under 3, free. Museum and theater: $17.00, $14.50, and $12.00. Reduced rates for Chicago residents. Free admission on a number of days during the year. Accessible by bus, the Chicago Metra train, or parking at $12.00 per vehicle.

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