Museum of Science and Industry

chicago museum of sciene and industry

It had been a long time since my last visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, but upon my return I was quickly reminded of the fact that a one day visit just isn’t enough. The museum is huge, actually one of the largest science museums in the world, so plan to get there early and spend the entire day exploring the many facets of this sprawling building packed with information and interactive exhibits. Whether you are a frequent visitor or it’s your first time to the museum, there are amazing temporary exhibits as well as permanent exhibitions that are worth a second look.

Like many great Chicago historic sites, the idea for the Museum of Science and Industry grew from the World’s Colombian Exhibition in 1893 as a temporary structure designed for the fair. The Palace of Fine Arts was designed with Greek architecture in mind, but no clear vision of what the building in Jackson Park would really become. After a trip to Munich’s Deutsches Museum in 1911, Julius Rosenwold, chairman of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, saw what Chicago needed — a science museum that would inspire creativity and provide a unique, interactive experience for visitors. In 1926, he began to turn his vision into reality by mobilizing Chicago’s elite to see the need for a museum that would inspire young people to pursue their scientific dreams and raise money to restore the formerly vacant Palace of Fine Arts structure into a world-class facility. The museum opened in 1933 with an exhibit that is still present today, The Coal Mine. Make sure to leave enough time for this exhibit, where you’ll journey 50-feet down into a mineshaft.

Twenty one years later, the museum would welcome another popular permanent exhibit, the U-505 German submarine that the United States Navy captured during World War II. Today visitors can explore what it was like to capture the submarine and learn the technology of the stealth sea vessel. For an extra cost on your admission ticket, venture into the submarine itself and picture what it would have been like to live in the narrow quarters with other seamen.

In 1994, the museum towed a Boeing 727 airplane over Lake Michigan and across Lake Shore Drive to become a part of the Take Flight exhibit, which presents the aerodynamics of flying an airplane of that size. In the You! The Experience exhibit you can sync up 3D human heart with your own pulses and check out slices of the human body to better understand its intricacies. Other permanent can’t-miss exhibits include a visit to the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train (Pioneer Zephyr), and a NASA spacecraft used on the Apollo 8 mission.

Though the museum’s permanent exhibits are reason to come alone, many of the temporary exhibits are what keep Chicagoans returning again and again. Previous exhibits have included the RMS Titanic (corresponding with the movie release to display artifacts recovered from the wrecked ship) and Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds (a detailed look at the human body). At the time of this writing, the museum was hosting Science Storms, an exhibit featuring a 40-foot tornado, a tsunami tank, and other displays intended to explain the wonders of nature.

Basic Info:
Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Phone: (312) 681-1414

Getting There:
L: Green Line (Cottage Grove)
Bus: #2, 6, 10, X28, 170, 171
Metra: 57th Street
Driving: From Lake Shore Drive, exit at 57th Street. Follow Museum signs.

Admission Hours & Prices:

Monday-Saturday 9:30pm-4pm
Sunday 11am-4pm
Closed on Christmas Day

Adults Seniors Child

General Admission $15.00 $14.00 $10.00
General Admission for Chicago Residents $13.00 $12.00 $9.00


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Tessa McLean

About Tessa McLean

There is just something about that feeling when you have been away — maybe for a weekend, a month, 6 months — and you’re driving into Chicago and that first glimpse of the city skyline appears. It just always makes me smile.


  • Gene Wagendorf III Gene Wagendorf III
    October 10, 2010 | Permalink | Reply

    Just dropped by here earlier this week for the first time since early childhood. Had an absolute blast making and manipulating tornadoes, touring the coal mine and checking out the sub. The building itself is still the main attraction for me, but that being said, I can’t see how anyone could not have a good time at the MoS&I.

  • Phil Kranyak Phil Kranyak
    December 4, 2010 | Permalink | Reply

    I love science! …..not so much industry…….but I went here recently for the first time, and it was amazing. I agree that the weather exhibit was fascinating, and I was intrigued by the different size and shape sediment and how they move and shift at different angles. I love angles.

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