Exploring the Museum of Science and Industry
After the big press event for Month at the Museum concluded, like most of the other Finalists… I hung around the museum to explore a little. We each got a bag chock full of stuff (t-shirts, astronaut ice cream, gift certificates) and the thing was pretty heavy. So Liz and I decided to walk it out to the car, before exploring.
Along the way, we ran into a few folks who congratulated me and who told me they cast their vote for me. Which was very kind and flattering to hear (I also got some nice compliments about this blog, too). Then, riding the escalator back up to the main floor… a few MSI workers behind the main ticket booth started to yell out “Fe-LIX Fe-LIX” as we were riding up.
It was a little surprising, and caught me off guard. But it was incredibly awesome.
As we were entering the musuem proper, we were stopped and asked for our tickets. As we were trying to explain, two other MSI workers came by and asked the ticket-lady “Don’t you know who this is? He’s a Finalist – let him through.” I totally felt like a rock star.
Of course, we made a beeline for the Science Storms exhibit.
The Tornado vortex was easily visible from the main rotunda, and drew us in like a magnet. On our way there, we ran into another MSI worker who also expressed congratulations. When she found out we were headed to the tornado, she asked us if we wanted to go inside it. After a few seconds of delirious joy, I gave her an emphatic yes.
View from inside the tornado chamber. I didn’t know this at first, but there are controls all along the perimeter of the display, allowing visitors to alter the size and speed of the vortex. How cool!
On first walking in to the area (there was a velvet rope and everything), I asked the woman running the exhibit if the public often got to enter into the tornado like this. She told me no, it wasn’t open to the public… but that I was special. Again, another awesome rock star moment.
A view of the base. I don’t know if I’m remembering this accurately, but the woman working the exhibit mentioned there were something like 30+ humidifiers under the grates, generating all the moisture.
Me, walking through the tornado.
This was part of a tsunami display, where waves generated at the deeper end of the tank came rushing at the shallow end. The entire display was controlled by a nearby computerized panel, and I had as much fun watching the tsunamis as I did the kids who kept running back and forth, setting and resetting the machine.
Liz, exploring the “Color Room.”
A nearby light display, where shapes on a table were projected on to an adjoining wall.
There were three or four of these smaller cannisters, where visitors could create (and control) their own mini-tornados.
One of two large ballows that visitors could send up to the very top of the ceiling.
The largest Newton’s Cradle I’ve ever seen.
Up on the second floor, looking down on the main floor of the exhibit.
The largest Wimshurst Machine I’ve ever seen.
A 100,000 watt light bulb. Decided against using a flash.
An exhibit that was really captivating was the Tesla Coil suspended high above the second floor.
While walking around on the ground floor, we heard these incredibly large, buzzing bursts of energy. We only saw it briefly, but made it a point to try to catch the ne
xt display (about 40 minutes later).
I realize these are similar images, but it was just way too cool to experience.
A live thermal image of an enclosed flame (which you could alter with water). Like so many of the other displays, this was run off of a large touch-screen. At moments, it felt like being in a Star Trek movie.
Interactive periodic table of elements. There were a few discs that you would place on an element, and then drag over to the side. Depending on the combination you came up with, the display would animate your reaction (and also give you a brief video).
As we wandered around a bit more, we stumbled across the baby chick hatchery. In one area, the chicks were eating, drinking and resting up.
In an adjoining area, newly born chicks were napping pretty hard… and others were in the process of waking up.
Chicks, close up.
Chick and egg. Not sure which one I saw first.
On our way out, taking the escalator down. On the left was where, earlier in the morning, folks were shouting my name. Still can’t get over that.
This photo doesn’t really do justice to the size of the main entrance. The museum is huge, huge, huge.
For lunch, Liz and I ended up going over to Hot Doug’s. Given the time (it was close to 3 or 4PM), there was no line and we got parking really close by. Score!
I got a corndog and the Alligator sausage, with Shrimp Remoulade and Velours Blue Cheese. Liz got the Cherry Pork Sausage, with pomegranate cream and goat cheese. We also split some fries. Though I didn’t win the Month at the Museum contest, this was a nice consolation prize.
While we were at the museum for many hours, we only saw a fraction of what was there. Liz remarked that she remembered the museum from her childhood, and in the times she’s visited in the past… the museum seemed like it always was: the same exhibits and displays. But today, she remarked how the museum looked “totally different,” and how it was nothing like what she remembered.
There’s so much to explore at MSI, it’s hard to imagine being able to see it all in one day. Even as an adult, walking around and viewing the exhibits… my jaw was dropped more than once. I can only imagine how amazing it must be, to explore this place as a child.
If, like me, you’re a Chicago resident who hasn’t been to MSI in years and years… it’s worth the trek. And if you’re out of town, consider making the museum a part of your visit. Come by, and get a little lost in the wonder of it all.