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The Tsunami Wave Tank captures the attention of visiting schoolchildren

Illinois

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois: Fun for All Ages

By: Amy Nance

J. B Spector/Museum of Science and Industry
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  • States:
    Illinois

With so many educational and historical attractions, Chicago is the U.S. Midwest’s cultural hub (dating back to 1893, when it beat out several other notable U.S. cities to host the World’s Fair).

Now, Chicago’s reputation for celebrating the arts and sciences is evident in its many cultural institutions such as the expansive Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI). Just how big is the museum? It is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere at over 37,000 square meters, with more than five hectares of exhibits. Big enough to satisfy the biggest of imaginations, basically. Easily accessible via bus or Metra train system, MSI is a vibrant institution with tons of dynamic displays, interactive exhibits and tours for everyone in your group. Whether you have all weekend or just a few hours, visits to this museum can be tailored to accommodate any schedule. How does MSI manage to be all things to all people? Read on to find out.

For the Littles

For the group that needs no invitation to get “hands-on,” MSI’s fun, interactive exhibits are fully engaging. See Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, a mini fantasy home bursting with whimsical detail. Head to The Idea Factory to experiment in a lab designed just for young ones. And stop by YOU! The Experience where kids can run in a human-sized hamster wheel or send their pulses to a giant 3-D heart. ToyMaker 3000: An Adventure in Automation is another highlight where you get a close-up view of how toys are put together. For a classic museum attraction, stop at Genetics and the Baby Chick Hatchery to see baby birds peck out of their shells. 

Looking up at "Earth Revealed" in the Museum of Science and Industry

Looking up at "Earth Revealed" in the Museum of Science and Industry
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J. B Spector/Museum of Science and Industry

Calling All Teens

Older kids will find themselves captivated by an OMNIMAX film in Chicago’s only five-story domed, wrap-around theater, with different films playing throughout the year. Budding inventors can head to the Dream It, Design It, Fab It! workshop to tinker with design software and equipment. Stop by the Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze exhibit for a dizzying exploration of patterns. But just as dizzying is Science Storms, where you can control a 12-meter tornado. There is no shortage of interactive exhibits to keep you busy for hours.

Visitors making their way through the mirror maze at the Museum of Science and Industry

Visitors making their way through the mirror maze at the Museum of Science and Industry
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J. B Spector/Museum of Science and Industry

Fun for Adults

MSI has plenty of attractions for adults. Revisit the engineering feats of the past as you plunge into a coal mine and take an on-board tour of a huge World War II U-505 submarine. “The Flight and Ride Simulators” put you right in the pilot’s seat, while Farm Tech shows you how modern farms work. Fondly remember the past when you stroll down a replicated old-fashioned main street. And then visit the future at the Fast Forward . . . Inventing the Future exhibit. Don’t leave without visiting the Henry Crown Space Center, where artifacts, interactives and storytelling meet to provide a rich experience of space. 

Taking in the full size of the World War II German submarine at the Museum of Science and Industry

Taking in the full size of the World War II German submarine at the Museum of Science and Industry
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J. B Spector/Museum of Science and Industry

Getting There

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago is located along Lake Shore Drive, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, just a few minutes from downtown. Fly into Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) or Chicago Midway International (MDW) and head east toward the waterfront.

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