Chicago's Top 10 : Museum of Science & Industry (part 2) - The Museum’s Origins

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Museum Floorplan
  1. Transportation Zone

    A full-size Boeing 727 and a British World War II fighter plane dangle dramatically above a steam locomotive and the world’s fastest land vehicle, while visitors explore the forces of flight via computer games and videos.

    Boeing 727, Transportation Zone
  2. U-505

    Artifacts, archival footage, and interactive challenges bring to life this restored U-505 German submarine. Optional on-board tours of the boat are available.

  3. Genetics: Decoding Life

    Explore the complex and controversial world of genetics and genetic engineering and learn how cloning is possible, while viewing real cloned mice.

  4. The Farm

    Learn about life on today’s farms and the modern technologies that get food from the field to your table. Children can ride in a real combine and take part in a cow-milking challenge.

  5. Networld

    The binary world of cyberspace comes alive here via educational yet fun hands-on displays.

  6. AIDS: The War Within

    Replicas of enlarged human cells vividly illustrate the in-depth workings of the HIV virus in this highly educational exhibit.

  7. Ships Through the Ages

    Here, model ships chart marine transportation from Egyptian sailboats through to modern ocean liners. Highlights include scale versions of Christopher Columbus’ three ships.

  8. Petroleum Planet

    The journey from pipeline to polymers is told from an oil molecule’s perspective, ending in a huge display of by-products, from running shoes to chewing gum.

  9. Communications Zone

    The Whispering Gallery illustrates how sound-waves make even the faintest whisper audible at the other end of a room, while the World Live Theater lets visitors witness TV broadcasts being beamed in from around the world.

  10. Enterprise

    Interactive scenarios allow visitors to climb into the shoes of a fictional CEO to lead a toy manufacturing company through important business decisions.

The Museum’s Origins

Built as the Palace of Fine Arts in 1893, the Museum of Science and Industry is now the only building left from Daniel Burnham’s vast “White City.” This was constructed for the World’s Columbian Exposition, which marked the 400th anniversary (albeit one year late) of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World. Burnham, the Director of Works for the fair , commissioned architects like Charles Atwood to create structures that would showcase the best in design, culture, and technology. The Field Museum inhabited the building until the 1920s when it moved to its present-day Museum Campus home. Sears Roebuck retail chief Julius Rosenwald then decided that a fortified palace, stripped to its steel frame and rebuilt in limestone, would be the perfect home for a new museum devoted to “industrial enlightenment” and US technological achievements. Appropriately, the Museum debuted in 1933 when Chicago hosted its next World’s Fair, the Century of Progress Exposition.

A stone figure on the Museum

The Museum as it stands today
  1. First ever Ferris Wheel

  2. Palace of Fine Arts

  3. Midway Plaisance, first separate amusement area at a world’s fair

  4. Jackson Park, landscaped by designer Frederick Law Olmsted

  5. Exotic Dancer “Little Egypt” in the “Streets of Cairo” exhibit

  6. Nickname “Windy City” introduced 

  7. A 1,500 lb (680 kg) chocolate Venus de Milo

  8. A 70-ft- (21-m-) high tower of light bulbs

  9. Floodlights used on buildings for the first time

  10. 250,000 separate displays on show.

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