Museum of Science and Industry


With so much to see and do, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. I feel like every hour I spend here, at least one new "to do" gets added to my list. So, in order to break the experience into more manageable chunks, my days will often have themes. Day 2's was "Behind the Scenes." From selling admission tickets to helping to facilitate demonstrations to getting an up-close look at the Omnimax projector - today was all about getting the inside scoop.

Probably my favorite thing today was the "Nooks and Crannies" tour with Dick Klarich. During his time working at the Museum, Dick has gotten to know this building inside and out. And today he showed me some of his favorite spaces... places that the general public doesn't get to see. We spent about an hour together and barely scratched the surface.

The building that now houses MSI was originally The Palace of Fine Arts, constructed for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 (if you haven't read "Devil in the White City", I definitely recommend it). I'm a World's Fair geek (and love old buildings in general) so this tour was right up my alley. Here are a few of my favorite stops on the tour:

 

These are the curved I-beams that support the rotunda dome.

There are some holes in the ceiling to allow room for rigging. Thankfully, one was just big enough for my arm (and camera, of course).

And here's the shot I got of the rotunda below.

There was a great view outside too (and here's proof that I get outside every once in a while).

This tour is not tall-person-friendly. Of course, these little hobbit-doors aren't friendly for most people.

HUGE thanks to my intrepid tour guide, Dick.

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  • Readers' Comments (17)
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sarah f.
on 
October 21, 2011

so cool kevin! i'm glad you can get some fresh air every now and then :) love the hobbit doors.

james a.
on 
October 21, 2011

Yay Kevin. Well, I see the crannies, but which picture had the nooks?!

Tiffany S.
on 
October 21, 2011

The shot from above the rotunda is really neat!

Norwood B.
on 
October 21, 2011

Kevin,Please get more pictures out there.You are living MY Dream!!

Matt Klarich
on 
October 21, 2011

Kevin, a great start to any visit to the museum is a tour from my Dad (Dick Klarich). He can and will talk your ear off for days in, under, on top of, and all the way around MSI. I worked there as a temporary exhibits guide for four summers and he still didn't get me into every little place that he knew about. MSI is an amazing location with loads of history and tons of potential for the future. Enjoy the rest of your month!

Rich Klarich
on 
October 21, 2011

Kevin, ask my Dad if you can fly in any of their aircraft. If they can figure out how to get one cranked up outside I'll figure out how to get it up in the air. Glad you are enjoying your time w/ my Dad @ MSI!

Matt Klarich
on 
October 21, 2011

Rich, they do have a full motion (with roll) flight simulator up behind the 727. I had Gabriel screaming bloody murder when I rolled us upside down in it and held it there. I was laughing hysterically the whole time. Well worth the wait in line and the extra effort to squeeze myself in there. If I was in Kevin's shoes (or box as it may be) I would be sneaking in flight time the whole night.

Rose Hernandez
on 
October 21, 2011

Wow, Kevin! The bird's eye view from the rotunda took my breath away! I am jealous of this experience, but so glad that you are making the most of your time there!! I hope to get up there soon to meet you. Until then, happy "sciencing!" ;) Keep posting pics! I love to see them!!

JeanCarl
on 
October 21, 2011

Nice shot from the rotunda! If time permits, more quick photos around and about would be great. Do you have a video camera? I really want to feel what you feel living in the museum. Flood us with content! Please!

Jenny
on 
October 21, 2011

Since you mentioned World's Fairs...Do you know about the Viking boat from 1893 (located in Geneva,IL)? The head and tail are in storage at MSI. There was a picture posted by Kate when she was there.

Liz Klarich
on 
October 21, 2011

Hi Kevin. Have a wonderful time! My dad loves giving the behind-the-scenes tours, so I am sure you could do a repeat at some point (I am the last of the Klarich kids to comment!). Whatever you do, don't walk down the stairs with the human anatomical slices at night... super creepy! (I think they are still on display). Congratulations!

Jamie
on 
October 21, 2011

This is sooo cool. I LOVE Chicago history and have read A LOT about the Columbian Exposition. I am also a huge fan of Burnham. Enjoy your time there and keep the pics coming! Can't wait to see what your next adventure is!

Reid
on 
October 21, 2011

Looks like you are having as much as a amazing time as Kate had when she was there. I wish you all kinds of fun and adventure along your stay there. I cant say that I am not envoyous you when I am. about over 1000 people are jealous that you took thier spot. I personally think the musuem hates me for some reason but oh well.

Amanda
on 
October 21, 2011

SO jealous of that rotunda view! World's Fair-related things are so interesting, aren't they? Can't wait to see what else you have to share with us!

scot
on 
October 23, 2011

Hey Kevin..... You Lucky So & So..... I Super Love "The Behind The Scenes" !!!! see if you can find the "Old Trains" that they used to have there.... please get a picture of one engines close up, I would love to see it just one more time....... thanks Kevin.... I will be there on thanksgiving.

Derek
on 
October 23, 2011

Pretty interesting that you found a life-size stand-ups of Kate McGroarty still in the museum. Does this give you ideas to hide one of yours on the last day of your adventure? (I know, you just finished day two and I'm already asking about the sad day when the adventure is over)

MSI Kevin
on 
October 23, 2011

Thanks everyone, for the comments. The Klarich crew: you guys are hilarious. I love that blog-reading is a family affair. I will definitely be hitting your dad up for more of the inside scoop. James: very true. I knew I forgot something. I plan on more tours like this so hopefully I'll find some crannies. Jenny: I haven't seen 'em yet; I'll keep an eye out. Derek: They didn't do the stand-ups this year. Instead, there's a HUGE banner in the lobby and a life-size photo on the side of the cube. Everyone: I'm trying to make the most of every minute and I'll share as much as possible. Thanks for the encouragement!

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kevin byrne


A digital marketing analyst from Chicago, Kevin is living inside the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere for 30 days.

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