This 14-acre (6-hectare) complex pays homage to both natural wonders and the ingenuity of man. The largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, it features life-size working replicas, a 5-story domed movie theater, 2,000 exhibits, and more than 35,000 artifacts. The museum is designed to spark imagination and inspire creativity.
Originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (later the World’s Fair), the museum is home to several larger-than-life permanent exhibits and innovative, educational programming. Its very first exhibit, the Coal Mine, opened in 1933 and still takes visitors to this expansive, subterranean world today. Other permanent exhibits include a real German U-505 submarine from World War II, a whispering gallery investigating the reflection of sound, a model ship gallery, and a miniature castle.
Prebook admission so you can skip the lines upon arrival or visit as part of a Chicago city tour. Several tourist cards—like the Chicago Explorer Pass and Chicago CityPASS—also include admission to the museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The museum is easily accessible by foot, car, bus, or train, or bicycle.
- There’s a food court, a cafe, and an ice cream parlor if you get the munchies.
- Several gift shops with science-themed souvenirs are on-site.
- Strollers and wheelchairs are available in the Entry Hall.
How to Get There
The museum entrance is at E. 57th Street and S. Cornell Avenue in the Hyde Park neighborhood, very close to downtown and Lake Michigan. CTA bus nos. 2 and 6, and the Metra Electric Line stop just blocks away. Bike the Lake Shore Drive path to reach the museum; racks are on each side of the main entrance.
When to Get There
The museum is typically open from 9:30am–4pm, but extends its hours during spring break, summer, and winter holidays. It’s a popular destination for children’s groups and field trips, so expect to see a number of large groups during the school year. The complex is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Shopping at the Museum of Science and Industry
You may not think “shopping” when visiting a museum, but you’ll think differently after seeing the variety of souvenir options available here. Some shops are exhibit-specific, such as the U-505 store and Launch Pad, in the submarine and space center exhibits, respectively. Find educational games, gifts, toys, and fun trinkets for all, or take souvenir photos at the photo studio.