Museum Mosaics

When we went to the Museum of Science and Industry last month, I needed to see Lake Michigan. I wasn’t sure exactly how that would work out, so since we arrived at the museum early, I worked my way through the parking garage and up through the labyrinth that is the entrance, and when I got outside, pointed myself toward the lake. As I made my way to a good vantage point, I waked through a few tunnels, and was surprised to find that the walls were covered in museum-themed mosaics!

I love the details like these that are so easy to find in a big city…it just adds to the city’s personality!

Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle

There was so much we didn’t get to see, or even see well, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The last thing we really did take a close look at before we left, though, was Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle.

Colleen Moore was an American actress in both silent pictures, and in the then newly popular sound films. The dollhouse was built by her father in 1928, and has been on display in Chicago since 1949.

Far from being “just a dollhouse,” this creation is a true marvel. There are 11 individual rooms (as well as an unexplained treasure room), and an outdoor garden. The castle contains tapestries with impossibly tiny stitches, vases that are over 500 years old, statues that are over 4,000 years old, the smallest Bible in the world, and fine materials including alabaster, amber, gold, and crystal throughout. There are depictions, as you would expect, from many fairy tales, including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, The Wizard of Oz, and King Arthur.

I’m not going to lie…it’s kind of a weird thing. When you consider the value of all of the miniatures and the castle itself, it’s mind-boggling. The original price tag in the 1930s was almost a half a million dollars! But even thought it’s strange, it’s also breathtakingly stunning, and when you consider the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating it, the mind boggles further. It’s truly something that shouldn’t be missed!

The Great Train Story

There is a lot of cool stuff to see at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, but something I was especially impressed with is The Great Train Story. This is a model railroad system that features over 20 trains (including freight, Amtrak, Metra, and the Chicago “L!”) depicting rail travel from Chicago to Seattle. In addition to the downtowns of both cities, there are suburban areas, farmlands (which I somehow managed to escape photographing), and mountains:

You can find this display in the heart of the Transportation Gallery, and it’s worth walking around not just once, but at least twice, to take in all the miniature details!

U-505 Tour

When we were planning our trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the U-505 tour of the only German submarine in the United States wasn’t originally on my, um…sonar. The money we had saved for our visit was earmarked for the Lego exhibit. But then I discovered that they have a special school rate for tours and exhibits, which they kindly extend to homeschoolers. So we ended up getting tickets not only for Brick by Brick, but for the U-505 tour, as well, for a little less than I was planning on spending on the Lego exhibit alone!

The tour, which lasts about a half and hour, is very well narrated, and includes many sound effects and light changes, which really make you feel like you’re in the middle of a battle. It was really interesting to see and smell the history of the boat, and being on board really makes you understand just how cramped the quarters were.

For those who don’t have time for the tour, or don’t want to pay for the tickets, there is still plenty to learn about the U-505 in the surrounding exhibit:

I’m so glad we were able to find a way to go on this tour…we all learned a lot, and it really made us feel like we were experiencing the history of the boat and the time period!

Brick by Brick

One of the highlights of our trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago was touring the Lego exhibit, Brick by Brick, that is currently on display there. We weren’t supposed to get to see it…when I was originally looking for things we could do in Chicago, I was sad to discover that it was supposed to be gone long before we got there. Its stay was extended, however, and we were even able to get homeschool tickets at a discount rate!

The first thing that caught my eye upon entering was a huge model of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. It’s almost impossible to explain how massive it is!

We recognized many other modern landmarks as we walked through the exhibit:

And found a few ancient structures, as well:

The American Eagle coaster was a nice local touch:

The exhibit got even more local, with a replica of the building we were in!

While the local landmarks were cool, I enjoyed this out-of-this-world model even more!

And we even got a glimpse of home while we were there!

It was interesting to see what Lego bricks were used in the different models:

The exhibit included a Brick by Brick Design Challenge stage…guess who was chosen to go up and build a space ship? For those that didn’t get called on stage, there was also a free build area, where Turkey enjoyed building his own version of Chicago.

Out of everything we saw, I was surprised to find that I liked Cinderella’s Castle the best. I guess the magic of the location combined with Lego bricks really appealed to me!

There was even one piece in the entrance to the museum, which can by admired even without a ticket to the exhibit!

We really enjoyed seeing so many massive Lego builds. There was also a fun scavenger hunt along the way, which the children had fun with, and helped them learn a little bit about the designs and the designer. I’m so glad this was held over and we got a chance to see it!

The Museum of Science and Industry

When we were in Chicago last month, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, which was always one of my favorite Chicago locations:

I had managed to forget how huge it is, however! We only had about five hours to spend there, which meant we went at breakneck speed to see and do a lot of things, even through we knew we’d never see everything. One of the first things we did was go through the mirror maze, which I found terrifying, because I was certain we were going to lose a child in there! It did look cool, though!

We slowed down long enough to watch the Tesla coil demonstration:

There was so much more to see. In addition to touring the special Lego exhibit, we also spent a good deal of time admiring Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, and went on the U-505 tour.

All that was just the tip of the iceberg! We checked out some of the trains, (including a cool model train story depicting travel from Chicago to Seattle), saw the chicks (including one that had just hatched!), played with a plasma globe, took in as much space stuff as we could, watched how a robot assembly line works, and even visited Yesterday’s Main Street. There is seriously so much there!

I was especially tickled to run across one of the “Cows on Parade” from the art installation that was popular in Chicago so many years ago!

It was a fun, busy day…I only hope that someday, we can go back, and see some of the things we missed!