In November of 2019, we traveled once again to Chicago, Illinois and on this trip we stopped at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry building (MSI). This was one of the spots that has been on our list for some time, since this is the only "major" building left from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, a.k.a. The Columbian Exposition.
The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is a science museum located in Chicago, Illinois, in Jackson Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood between Lake Michigan and The University of Chicago. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition. Initially endowed by Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck and Company president and philanthropist, it was supported by the Commercial Club of Chicago and opened in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition. The museum is located at 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
We almost did not make it to the museum. It was something we pushed off until the last day of our visit and so that we could set aside the entire day to go and walk around before we had to rush off to the airport to get back home. It was very cold and rainy outside, one of those days where you just wanted to stay indoors, but we decided we have to go on this adventure. After checking out of our room and leaving our baggage at the hotel baggage claim, we called for an Uber to take us over to the museum. It was amazing to see the outside façade of the building. Being that we are fans of the 1893 World's Fair, we just wanted to stand outside for a while and take it in up close.
As mentioned, our first amazement was to actually witness the building. Over the years it has gone through many renovations, but this building still exists since the base of it was created using lime stone so that it would protected the precious works of art that were coming to the fair from around the world. All of the other buildings that were building as part of the "White City" were made of a plaster type façade which would never withstand long term Chicago weather, so they were just temporary buildings. Here is a photograph of the way the building looked back in 1893.
Here is a photograph of the inside of the building at the time of the fair. The name of the building was the "Palace of Fine Arts," and many visitors to the fair would have walked through these halls. People like, Lizzie Borden, Harry Houdini, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and H.H. Holmes.
Here is that hallway as it looked in November of 2019.
The following is the original layout and design of the building. A sprawling complex used to house many pieces of art and exhibits.
Once we entered the building, we took an elevator and some steps down to where the ticket sales where. The lines were very long, since they were having some kind of corporate family day; however, there was a poster saying that you could actually purchase tickets on the museum's website. Which is what we did and we got to by-pass the long wait in line. All we had to do was show the receipt on our phone to get into the museum. Please check the museum's website for times and ticket prices.
We put together a video of what we were able to see inside the building, as well as walking around outside to the back of the building to see the lake and the façade where the apparition of Clearance Darrow has been reported. At the time we were there, these were the only paranormal claims that we knew about.
There are several fascinating exhibits within the building. We started off by seeing the U-505 captured German U-boat that is actually inside of the building. This boat used to be outside; however, due to the harsh weather conditions, funds were raised to make a permanent exhibit indoors.
The story behind the U-505 is a fascinating story. From it's capture to moving it to where it resides today, the ship has seen such an interesting journey. In 1989, The U-505 was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to go inside the submarine, since the tickets were sold out for the day.
Henry Crown Space Center
The next exhibit we went to visit was the Henry Crown Space Center area. In this area there were many NASA and space related items to view from a Moon Rock to an Apollo command capsule.
There was even a simulated lunar lander on display. I over heard a parent tell their kids that it was a machine that once landed on the moon. Of course, I couldn't hold my tongue and had to politely correct them and say, "No, lunar landers do not come back, they stay on the surface of the moon, but that Apollo 8 Capsule behind us actually went closer to the moon by orbiting it ten times before heading back to Earth." I just got the typical dirty look as they walked away.
Empire State Express No. 999
Shortly after engine No. 999's record-breaking run of 112.5 miles per hour on May 10, 1893, it traveled to Chicago where it was the most impressive of all locomotives exhibited a the World's Columbian Exposition. It returned to Chicago for the 1933-1934 A Century of Progress Fair, as well as the 1948-1949 Chicago Railroad Fair. Retired from service in 1952, engine No. 999 came to the Museum ten years later.
There are many more things we saw while inside of the museum. There was a model railroad train layout, a yester-year city walk display, and even a man-made tornado that was quite interesting. You can see all of this in our video above and through more pictures we have in the on-line photo album. We were getting a little antsy, since it was approaching the time for us to leave to go back to our hotel, grab our luggage, and head out for the airport. We wanted to get out back by the lagoon before we left, so we made our way to the far side of the museum. Problem was, you could not exit out through that area. Well, you could, but there were emergency exit only signs.
So, we decided to head back to the main entrance and just hurry and walk around the outside of the building to the lagoon. Again, you can see this in our video we posted above. Once around back, there was the lagoon, and the back façade of the building that you see in most of the pictures from the fair. Again, we were in amazement of being in this area and seeing the place. We have heard about the paranormal stories and read about the people who have walked in this area, and now we were standing right there.
Now, once we got back home and started to do some research about the building and collect information to produce our videos. I (Boris) found more information about some of the paranormal activity that has been reported inside of the building. Again, lucking out since this was a rare find, I (Boris), was able to make a Ghost Stories and Folklore video about the building and the exhibits.
We quite enjoyed our short visit to the museum. If we ever make it back to Chicago, we would like to go back and see some of the other exhibits that we missed. If you have been to this museum before, please let us know about your experiences down in the comment section below.