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Museum of Science and Industry

57th Street & Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL

Phone: 773 684 1414 --
TTY: (773) 684-3323

Statement of Purpose

One of the nation's premier learning centers, the Museum presents captivating, compelling and real experiences to inspire the inventive genius in everyone.

The Midwest's number two tourist attraction (after Woodfields Shopping Center). The 2,000 displays in 75 major exhibition halls are designed for participation.


The eulogies were written. By 1920, the Palace of Fine Arts, the last remaining building of Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, faced an uncertain future.

Designed by Charles B. Atwood, the Palace of Fine Arts paid homage to classic Greek architecture and, in sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens' view, was "the finest thing done since the Parthenon."

But unlike the Parthenon, the structure was not meant to last. Although more permanent materials such as brick were used to construct the Palace of Eine Arts, it was a temporary structure. Its cost was $541,795.

From 1894 to 1920, the building was the home of the Field Museum and was kept in condition by occasional patching and repairs. But when the Field Museum moved to its new home in Grant Park, the Palace of Fine Arts was neglected and quickly fell to ruin. The foundation weakened in the wet, sandy soil of Jackson Park and the winds and rain rusted the steel and chipped away at the plastercovered brick and wood. To some, the building had become only a scaly, wormy pile that should be allowed to die. But most public sentiment favored saving the building. The Chicago Tribune ran editorials, and the South Park Board, led by an up-and-coming politician named Edward J. Kelly (who later became mayor), reversed its decision to demolish the building. To show that restoration was possible, the Illinois Federation of Women's Clubs raised almost $7,000 in 1922 to renew a corner of the building.

In 1925, members of the Federation held a banquet in the drafty building. As Genevieve Forbes of the Chicago Tribune reported, "the men and women shivered and shook as they basked in the warmth of memories of the Parthenon and dodged the wind that swept throught the friezes. Men's white bow ties were hidden by mufflers and overcoat collars. Women's white shoulders were swathed in last year's furs, hauled out of this year's travelling bags."

Clearly, more needed to be done. And a decision had to be made about how to use the building. Sculptor Loredo Taft wanted the building to become a branch of the Art Institute. Others suggested it be used as an industrial art school or a convention hall.

The city's leaders continued their discussion, unaware that a prominent Chicagoan's trip to Germany more than a decade before was to determine the fate of the building.

Julius Rosenwald was a man of many interests. Chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company, Rosenwald also was one of America's leading philanthropists. The range of his philanthropy extended from establishing health services and dental clinics in public schools to financing Admiral Richard E. Byrd's expedition to the South Pole.

In 1911, Rosenwald had visited the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, with his 8-year-old son. Young William was captivated by a museum where things moved and which encouraged visitors to push buttons and work levers. He urged his father to bring such a museum to Chicago.

In the 1920's, Rosenwald sought and obtained the backing of the influential Commercial Club of Chicago, headed then by Sewell L. Avery, for an industrial museum." Shortly after pledging $3 million for the development of the museum, Rosenwald had another idea. The Palace of Fine Arts needed a purpose and the museum needed a home. In 1926, the South Park District passed a $5 million bond issue for restoration of the building with the understanding that the exterior would look exactly as it had in 1893, while the interior could be adapted for a participatory science and technology museum.

The R.C. Wieboldt Company was selected to restore the exterior of the building at a cost of more than $1.6 million.

One more debate was to delay the beginning of the restoration work. Terra cotta versus limestone became an issue that would be played out in one-page ads paid for by terra cotta companies, at Park Board meetings, and in editorials by the Chicago Tribune. Finally, it was agreed that Indiana limestone would be used, and a contract was let for 350,000 cubic feet of stone that weighed 28,000 tons.

In 1929, R.C. Wieboldt threw the first brick through a window of the old building and the reconstruction was officially under way. Two years later Wieboldt personally oversaw the installation of the caryatids and statues over the portals, which he referred to as "the ladies."

The Museum originally was incorporated as the Rosenwald Industrial Museum But Julius Rosenwald objected, saying that such institutions should belong to the people and not just one man. As a result, the name was changed to the Museum of Science and Industry in 1928 -- five years before the Museum opened. Eventually the Rosenwald Fund gave some $7 million to develop the Museum.

Highlights & Collections

Roam the seas aboard a World War II German submarine. Maneuver a Mars rover over alien terrain. Zip through city streets as you engage in a virtual car chase. Walk through the heart of a 28-story tall human. Here at the Museum, you can do everything you’ve ever imagined ­ and even things you can’t imagine ­ from flying a fighter jet to morphing your face to manning a mission to the Moon. That’s because the Museum of Science and Industry is the place where we want you to touch ­ to step into the action and get your hands on, not just stand behind the ropes and watch. Even our Henry Crown Space Center Omnimax Theater, with its five-story domed screen, makes you part of the performance. It’s this one-of-a-kind experience that makes the Museum of Science and Industry so much more than a museum.

Whether you’re interested in robotics, rocket science, saving the planet, surfing the web or just plain fun, the Museum’s up-to-the-minute attractions and ever-changing technology will keep you on the cutting edge.

Among the attractions: coal mine, WWII submarine, Omnimax theatre & H. Crown Space Center.

Travel to places you never dreamed of visiting at the world's largest museum of science and industry.

Explore the spectacular Henry Crown Space Center and futuristic Omnimax Theater, watch chicks hatching, walk through a 16-foot high human heart, see a WWII submarine, visit a coal mine, and much, much more....

It's guaranteed to spark your spirit of adventure!

Exhibits & Special Events

The Museum of Science and Industry is known for a number of new and long-standing exhibits.

The Henry Crown Space Center and Omnimax Theater

The Space Center and, within it, the Omnimax Theater, became permanent additions to the Museum on July 1, 1986. The Center also may be entered via the Museum's ground floor. The Space Center and Omnimax Theater cover an expanse of 36,000 square feet. HENRY CROWN SPACE CENTER:

Exhibits in the Center depict man's fascination with and efforts to explore outer space. Among the numerous historic artifacts and interactive exhibits are:


The Omnimax Theater, located in the Henry Crown Space Center, features the most sophisticated film and sound system for motion pictures in the world.

Omnimax films:



Admission & Directions:

General admission:

With one (1) Omnimax film:

With both (2) Omnimax films:

Thursdays are free general admission -- Omnimax and all other fees apply. Group rates and school rates are available for bookings made at least 4 weeks in advance. Call (773) 684-1414 for current Omnimax show schedule and to make reservations. Omnimax features do sell out on busy days, so reservations are strongly suggested.

Disabilities: The Museum and the Omnimax Theater are accessible to persons with disabilities. Note: Dates are subject to change. The Museum of Science and Industry is supported in part through the generosity of the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District.

The Museum of Science and Industry is located at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The main entrance is at Lake Shore Drive and Science Drive, about one block south of 57th Street. For more information, call (773) 684-1414, or outside the Chicago area, 1-800-GO TO MSI (1-800-468-6674). Hearing impaired visitors can call the TDD number (773) 684-3323. World Wide Web site:


Transportation Zone

Key Personnel:

David R. Mosena, President and CEO

Jason Harris, P.R. Manager

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