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Hands-on exhibits and experiences inspire inventive genius in everyone

CHICAGOSee your heart beat 13-feet tall. Climb aboard a World War II German submarine. Manipulate a 40-foot indoor tornado. Journey through a mathematical mirror maze. Plunge into a working coal mine. Step into the future.

Those experiences and more await you at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI)—the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere and home to thousands of exhibits, artifacts and “wow” moments that last a lifetime. For more than 85 years, MSI has been a premier destination in Chicago for unique and engaging family fun.

The Museum’s mission is to inspire the inventive genius in everyone, and even bigger than its mission is its vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. More than 300,000 students are among the approximately 1.5 million guests that visit each year, and the Museum takes its role as a catalyst for exploration in science seriously. Through its Welcome to Science Initiative, MSI reaches thousands of students and teachers through special programs, learning labs, educator workshops and more.

“MSI has touched the lives of more than 190 million guests since it opened in 1933,” said Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of MSI. “We can only imagine how many children, after visiting this Museum, decided to become biologists or doctors, geneticists or chemists. We strive to develop compelling and captivating exhibits and experiences that not only engage our guests, but inspire them as well.”

Accolades and Exhibits
MSI’s unique and cutting-edge experiences and exhibits have earned some bragging rights. MSI was rated one of the “Top 25 Museums in the U.S.” by TripAdvisor, one of the “Seven Wonders of Chicago” by the Chicago Tribune and named one of the “Top 10 Science Museums to visit in the United States” by American Mensa. Its exhibits, including Science Storms and YOU! The Experience, have received the highest exhibition awards by the American Association of Museums.

Science Storms, a 26,000-square-foot exhibit that reveals the extraordinary science behind some of nature’s most powerful and compelling phenomena; and YOU! The Experience, a 15,000-square-foot exhibit that explores the human mind, body and spirit, are among the most popular offerings at MSI. Other favorite experiences include: the U-505 Submarine, the only German U-boat captured during World War II, surrounded by more than 30,000 square feet of artifacts and interactive activities; Numbers in Nature, which explores mathematical patterns that abound in nature and lets guests maneuver a real mirror maze; Take Flight, a reimagined exhibit about modern aviation that showcases a 727 plane; the Coal Mine, a reproduction of an Illinois coal mine that takes guests down 50 feet in a real hoist to the bottom of a mineshaft; Pioneer Zephyr, a fresh take on the story of one of the fastest trains in the world; The Great Train Story, a dynamic model train display that illustrates modern rail operation; and the Giant Dome Theater, Chicago’s only five-story, domed, wrap-around movie screen.

Always Something New …
MSI is an industry leader with groundbreaking temporary exhibits that connect guests to a world of new experiences. Previous exhibitions have included the popular Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, which invites guests to explore more than 80 years of the Marvel Universe with iconic costumes, props and original art; the world-premiere Robot Revolution exhibit, which invited guests to meet and interact with more than 40 robots that demonstrated how robotics will change our lives for the better; and 80 at 80, which featured 80 artifacts specially selected from the Museum’s collection to tell the story of innovation and celebrate the Museum’s 80th anniversary.

How It All Began
During a visit to Munich’s Deutsches Museum in 1911, Museum founder Julius Rosenwald was inspired by all the exhibits that featured buttons, levers and pulleys that guests were encouraged to manipulate to truly learn how things worked. The experience sparked his determination to bring a similar hands-on institution to his hometown of Chicago.

Rosenwald—the philanthropist and chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company—pledged $3 million toward the creation of an industrial museum and galvanized Chicago’s industrial elite in support of the project. The Palace of Fine Arts, built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, was identified as the home for the new Museum. The years had reduced the Palace to crumbling plaster, but Rosenwald vowed to return the building to its former glory.

When the Museum of Science and Industry opened its doors on June 19, 1933, the new institution was unique: The Museum was the first interactive museum in North America.

Come on Down!
MSI is open Tuesdays through Sundays, closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Regular Museum hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours during peak times. Museum Entry pricing is $21.95 and $12.95 for children ages 3-11. City of Chicago residents receive a discount: $16.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages 3-11. 

Ways to make your visit easy include:

  • Tickets—For quick entry into the Museum, all tickets can be purchased online at msichicago.org.
  • Parking—Convenient, indoor parking is available, and the garage is directly connected to the Museum’s Entry Hall.
  • Restaurants—The Brain Food Court, Museum Café and Finnigan’s Ice Cream Parlor serve something for every taste.
  • Gift Shops—The Museum Store and specialty shops offer unique toys, models, books and more.
  • Stroller rentals, wheelchairs and coat check facilities are available.

For detailed information about MSI’s amenities, admission, free days for Illinois residents, special extended hours, membership and more, visit msichicago.org. The Museum is part of the Chicago CityPASS program, in which you can receive admission to five of the city’s most famous attractions for one low price. Buy CityPASS at the Museum or online at citypass.com.

About the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) offers world-class and uniquely interactive experiences which inspire the inventive genius in everyone. As one of the largest science museums in the world, from groundbreaking and award-winning exhibits to hands-on opportunities — a visit to MSI is guaranteed to connect fun and learning. MSI is committed to offering comprehensive educational programs — for students, teachers, and families — that make a difference in local communities and contribute to MSI’s larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. The Museum is grateful for the support of its generous donors and guests, who make its work possible. MSI is also supported in part by the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit msichicago.org or call (773) 684-1414.