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Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago stands as one of the largest science museums in the world. Housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, it offers an engaging and immersive experience that explores the past, present, and future of scientific achievements and industrial advancements.

History and Architecture

The MSI was established in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition. Its home, built in 1893, is one of the only remaining structures from the World’s Columbian Exposition, designed by Charles B. Atwood. The classical building, initially constructed with a temporary façade, was later rebuilt with limestone to house the museum permanently.

Exhibits and Collections

The vast array of exhibits at MSI covers topics from natural phenomena to technological innovations. Notable exhibits include:

  • Science Storms: This exhibit allows visitors to delve into the science behind natural phenomena like tornadoes, avalanches, and tsunamis.
  • U-505 Submarine: An actual German submarine captured during World War II, the U-505 is a National Historic Landmark and one of the museum’s most dramatic exhibits.
  • The Great Train Story: This model railroad exhibit showcases over 30 trains running on a 1,400-foot track, presenting the journey between Chicago and Seattle.
  • Coal Mine: A beloved Chicago classic, this exhibit simulates a descent into a coal mine, offering a glimpse into the mining industry.
  • Farm Tech: Visitors can learn about modern agriculture and its technological advancements in this interactive exhibit.
  • Genetics and the Baby Chick Hatchery: This exhibit provides insights into the field of genetics, complete with live chick hatchings.
  • Numbers in Nature: A mirror maze that reveals the mathematical patterns found in nature.

Educational Programs and Resources

MSI offers a range of educational programs aimed at inspiring the next generation of innovators. Programs include learning labs, field trip experiences, and science-related curricula for teachers to integrate into their classrooms. Additionally, the museum offers an array of online resources and activities for at-home science education.

Special Features and Attractions

MSI is known for its unique experiences, such as:

  • Omnimax Theater: A five-story, domed theater that showcases science and nature films in an immersive setting.
  • Brick by Brick: An exhibit that features large-scale models of architectural wonders, constructed entirely out of LEGO bricks.
  • Flight and Space Exhibits: These exhibits detail the history of space exploration and aviation, including a replica of the Apollo 8 module.

Visitor Experience

The museum provides a dynamic and interactive environment suited for visitors of all ages. Guests are encouraged to engage with hands-on exhibits, participate in live science experiences, and explore the vast halls filled with wonders of science and technology.

Accessibility and Facilities

MSI is dedicated to being accessible to all guests. Wheelchairs are available free of charge, and most exhibits are wheelchair-friendly. Other amenities include dining options, a picnic area, and a museum store.

Membership and Support

The MSI offers various membership levels, providing benefits such as free museum entry, guest passes, and discounts. The museum also welcomes donations, which support its educational programs and initiatives.

Research and Conservation

While primarily an educational institution, MSI also engages in research and conservation efforts. The museum collaborates with scientific and community organizations on projects that encourage environmental sustainability and promote STEM education.

Events and Temporary Exhibits

MSI hosts several temporary exhibits and special events throughout the year, ranging from topical science festivals to holiday-themed activities. These events often feature guest speakers, interactive workshops, and unique learning opportunities.


The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is a treasure trove of exploration that ignites curiosity and fuels a passion for discovery. Through its vast exhibits, educational programs, and commitment to accessibility, MSI inspires visitors to think critically about our world’s scientific and industrial landscapes. It’s an institution where history is celebrated, the present is explored, and the future of innovation is envisioned.

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