Museum of Fluffy Chicks and Dollhouses
Continuing our nostalgic tour of Chicago, Daniel and I made time to visit the Museum of Science and Industry one afternoon of our trip. It was a long, two-busride trip to the South Side, reminding me why I rarely got to go there when I was growing up (and why it was therefore my Holy Grail of most longed-for childhood outings).
It was also beloved by us kids for being the most interactive of Chicago's museums, with actual "rides": a crazy petroleum exhibit where you traveled slowly through a sort of crude oil Tunnel of Love, sitting in a space-age pod and learning about the life of hydrocarbons, as well as the Coal Mine, which counted as a ride because it involved a journey on a coal elevator. The lines for these attractions rivaled those at the most popular roller-coaster at an amusement park.
My memory of the place was as a massive palace of science, with level upon level of dazzling displays, more than could be explored in a week, much less an afternoon. Revisiting it, it still felt big, but we easily covered most of its square footage within a couple hours, and the overall science content was incredibly minimal. Its one standout technological feat, however, was as a time machine back to the early '70s. Very little, to my immense delight, had changed since my last visit. Let's begin our tour, shall we?
First up, the ever-popular chick hatchery!
Help, are these guys alive? Turned out they were just resting after the hard work of busting out of their shells. We saw a few feeble pecking motions from within still-unhatched eggs, but no actual hatching this time.
The giant heart was always a favorite on school field trips, but now I'm not quite sure why. It's just a giant heart that you can walk through, with a sonorous beating sound piped in. Perhaps the mere fact of its giantness was enough cause for delight.
And then there is the joy of the small: a model Chicago, with trains running through it.
Seattle was there, too.
Also my much beloved Fairy Castle, the dollhouse to end all dollhouses. As we were walking up to the museum doors, a little girl gazed up at me the way kids sometimes do, and in my own excitement I cornily asked her, "Are you going to see the dollhouse?" And she looked back at me like, "I have no idea what you're talking about, and please get away from me, crazy lady." Anyway, here's a dusky shot of the jewel-encrusted Princess's Bedroom. I hope the little girl did get to see it, though perhaps she's more interested in coal mines.
Yesterday's Main Street offers a convincing stroll through Old Chicago, also quite dusky ...
... and not a little spooky in its way.
And then there are the exhibits that aren't trying to be old, but have clearly reached their sell-by date, like this presentation having something to do with breakfast.
But that's part of what I love about this place. The building itself is a relic from the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, and so much inside it is a time capsule from a decade that I never would have dreamed would someday seem as long-ago and quaint as the era immortalized by the old-time Main Street facades.
Museum of Science and Industry, please don't ever change.