The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is located in Chicago, Illinois, USA in Jackson Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood adjacent to Lake Michigan. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Initially endowed by Sears, Roebuck and Company president and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, it first opened in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition. It is also the largest science museum in the western hemisphere.
Among its diverse and expansive exhibits, the Museum features a working coal mine, a German submarine (U-505) captured during World War II, a 3,500-square-foot (330 m2) model railroad, the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train (Pioneer Zephyr), and a NASA spacecraft used on the Apollo 8 mission.
Based on 2009 attendance, the Museum of Science and Industry was the third largest cultural attraction in Chicago. David R. Mosena has been President and CEO of the Museum since 1998.
The Palace of Fine Arts (also known as the Fine Arts Building) at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was designed by Charles B. Atwood. Unlike the other "White City" buildings, it was constructed with a brick substructure under its plaster facade. After the World's Fair, it initially housed the Columbian Museum, which evolved into the Field Museum of Natural History. When a new Field Museum building opened near downtown Chicago in 1920, the museum organization moved and the former site was left vacant.
Art Institute of Chicago professor Lorado Taft led a public campaign to restore the building and turn it into another art museum, one devoted to sculpture. The South Park Commissioners (now part of the Chicago Park District) won approval in a referendum to sell $5 million in bonds to pay for restoration costs, hoping to turn the building into a sculpture museum, a technical trade school, and other things. However, after a few years, the building was selected as the site for a new science museum.
At this time, the Commercial Club of Chicago was interested in establishing a science museum in Chicago. Sears, Roebuck and Company president and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald energized his fellow club members by pledging to pay $3 million towards the cost of converting the Palace of Fine Arts (Rosenwald eventually contributed more than $5 million to the project). During its conversion into the MSI, the building's exterior was re-cast in limestone, retaining its 1893 Beaux Arts look, while the interior was replaced with a new one in Art Moderne style designed by Alfred P. Shaw.
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