Chicago has its fair share of museums to explore. From the Field Museum of Natural History to the Shedd Aquarium to any number of children’s museums in the area, if a museum is what you’re looking for during your trip to Chicago, you’ll find one that suits all kinds of interests. One of our favorite Chicago museums is the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park.
The Museum of Science and Industry has exhibits for everyone- from transportation lovers to outdoor enthusiasts. During the holiday season, the foyer on the main floor is even decked out in holiday decor in its Christmas Around the World exhibit.
Because of the sheer size of the museum, it is impossible to see everything in one visit. The museum website offers a list of all the exhibits. It would be worth it to take a look and prioritize the exhibits you want to see before you go to make sure you don’t miss anything of interest.
Here are some of the must-see exhibits for your trip to the Museum of Science and Industry.
Catch a show at the Omnimax Theater
We chose to include the National Parks Adventure in our admission package. Although the video was an awesome presentation of one man’s National Parks road trip with his step son and family friend, what made it cool was watching it in a gigantic amphitheater-type theater with a gigantic floor to ceiling domed screen. The omnimax screen is five stories high making the stairs quite the climb if you want to sit near the top.
Henry Crown Space Center
As you exit the Omnimax theater, you enter a room that houses the space exhibit. In it you will find various artifacts of space travel such as the space capsule of Apollo 8, replicas of a few spaceships and astronaut space suits. I don’t know much about space travel but even I admit that it is a cool exhibit.
In this guided tour of a makeshift coal mine, you get a feel for what it was like to work in a mine. You learn about the evolution of coal mining in the United States from the early days up through today. The tour lasts about 30 minutes.
I enjoyed the coal mine exhibit. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the subject and he did a good job at keeping the group engaged by asking questions and having volunteers demonstrate certain aspects of the tour.
Butterfly Shadow Screen
Ladybug was especially fascinated by the shadow screen that simulated butterflies landing on her shadow when she stood still. She stood by the screen for a long time watching the butterflies land on her arms and head and then jumping up and down to watch them fly away.
In this exhibit on the main floor you find multiple forms of transportation from old airplanes hanging from the ceiling to a steam engine train. Go inside the old locomotive on the main floor of the exhibit or venture up to the floor above to explore the inside of a Boeing 727. Kids will definitely love it.
The Great Train Story
People of all ages are wowed by this large train set on the main floor. On one side of the exhibit, the familiar skyscrapers of the Chicago skyline tower over model cars and people. Follow the train to the other side and you’ll see the Space Needle of Seattle, Puget Sound and its viaduct. This exhibit holds special significance for me as it connects two important places in my life- the home of my childhood and my current home.
This is perhaps our favorite exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. I have been a World War II history buff since I was a little girl. I used to love hearing my grandparents tell stories of their lives back in the 1940s. Although it is a tragic part of our world history, it is important to remember the events that transpired. There is so much surrounding that time in history and I have always been interested in learning as much as I can.
In June of 1944, the US Navy captured the German U-boat off the West African coast. The US Navy was able to recover the submarine and it is now a permanent exhibit of the museum.
As you walk down the hallway leading to the large gallery that houses the submarine, your eyes are overwhelmed by 1940s propaganda to join the Navy or the WAVES. Sounds of sea battles and control centers give the exhibit a nice touch and help you glimpse into the time period and the realities of so many people during the war.
With a ticket, you can tour the inside of the sub and learn more about life under the surface of the ocean. We didn’t join a tour on our most recent visit but we have before and it is fascinating. It does get very warm in the U-boat so be prepared for that. The U-505 exhibit is, in my opinion, the top must-see of the museum.
These are only a few of the must-see exhibits in the Museum of Science and Industry. We spent about four hours at the museum and barely scratched the surface of what it offers. I recommend arriving at the museum early and spending most, if not all, of the day so you won’t have to rush. However, no matter how long you decide to spend there, make sure to put the Museum of Science and Industry on your itinerary for your next trip to Chicago.
About the Museum of Science and Industry
- The Museum of Science and Industry is located in Hyde Park at 5700 S Lake Shore Drive.
- There is ample parking in multiple parking lots for a fee.
- The price of admission includes many exhibits but the tours and omnimax shows come with an extra fee. Depending on the admission package, you can choose which special exhibits you would like to see.
- Museum hours are from 9:30 am- 4 pm
Have you been to the Museum of Science and Industry?
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