“Chicago Design Week Tours at the Museum of Science & Industry” by S.M. O’Connor

The Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) has special tours planned for Chicago Design Week 2018 (Saturday, October 27, 2018 through Saturday, November 3, 2018).  M.S.I. Design Sprints are self-guided tours that will be available Saturday, October 27, 2018 through Saturday, November 3, 2018.  The M.S.I. Collections Design Tour will be offered Monday, October 29, 2018 through Friday, November 2, 2018 (All Souls’ Day) from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Follow in the footsteps of Chicago designers and grab a custom-made Chicago Design Week map that showcase some of the favorite exhibits, artifacts, and curiosities of people in design disciplines.  This is free with Museum Entry (general admission), which is to say there is no additional cost.

The M.S.I. Collections Design Tour is a chance to see design as expressed in the collection of 35,000 artifacts in one of the world’s largest science museums, housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, one of the last few remaining buildings from Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893).  [In the context of museums, the collections department is where curators, property registrars, and preparators work.  In some museums, the collections department may also employ conservators, research librarians, and archivists, although in other museums libraries and archives may be separate departments. These are the people who care for artifacts, artworks, and human and animal specimens (both those on display and those in storage); borrow artifacts, artworks, and specimens from other museums; lend artifacts, artworks, and specimens to other museums; accept or reject proffered artifacts, artworks, or specimens; plan or help plan new exhibits; and prepare artifacts, artworks, or specimens for new exhibits.  Collections is the department I worked in when I was Archival Assistant and Interim Archivist of the M.S.I.]  Tickets for visitors ages twelve-and-over will be $40.  Registration will open shortly.

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, the Museum of Science and Industry reverted to regular hours (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).  On Saturday, October 6, 2018, the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; and on the weekend of Saturday, November 17, 2018 and Sunday, November 18, 2018, the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The Museum of Science and Industry will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 22, 2018) and the First Day of Christmas (Tuesday, December 25, 2018).  Extended hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) will be in play again from Friday, November 23, 2018 to Sunday, November 25, 2018; Saturday, December 1, 2018 and Sunday, December 2, 2018; Saturday, December 8, 2018 and Sunday, December 9, 2018; Saturday, December 15, 2018 and Sunday, December 2016; Saturday, December 22, 2018 and Sunday, December 23, 2018; and Wednesday, December 26, 2018 through Sunday, December 30, 2018.  Check this Webpage and the Museum of Science and Industry’s social media for updates.


9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 6, 21018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Thanksgiving Day

(Thursday, November 22, 2018)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sunday, November 25, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sunday, December 9, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018


Christmas Day

(Tuesday, December 25, 2018)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Museum of Science and Industry is housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, also known as the Fine Arts Building, which is the last palace from the White City fairgrounds of Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), still standing in Jackson Park.[1] Thus, the building turned 125 years old this year.  The façade is modeled on temples standing on the Acropolis of Athens.  Upon the exposition board naming him Director of Public Works for the World’s Columbian Exposition, on October 30, 1890, Daniel Hudson Burnham, Sr. (1846-1912) named his partner John Wellborn Root, Sr. (1850-1891) the supervising architect and the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) the supervising landscape architect.[2]  Root died after visiting Jackson Park on a stormy night. Burnham replaced him with Charles B. Atwood (1849-1895) as Chief Architect of the World’s Columbian Exposition and Atwood personally designed the Illinois Central Railroad Station, the Peristyle of the Court of Honor, and the Palace of Fine Arts.

The neoclassical design Atwood developed for the Palace of Fine Arts combined Roman domes with Ionic Greek columns, statues, and frieze panels.  He borrowed the Central Pavilion’s north portico from a painting of a fanciful art museum by Paul-Albert Besnard (1849-1934) that had won the Prix de Rome. Atwood had two assistants. Alexandre Sandier had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Besnard.  Ernest R. Graham (1868-1936) coordinated much of Atwood’s work on-site, including aspects of the Palace of Fine Arts.  Philip Martiny (1858-1927) carved the caryatids, the entablature figures, and the figure of Victory (the goddess Nike) that had initially crowned the Central Pavilion’s dome.   He was paid $18,920.00 for his work. Martiny’s contract did not cover installing his statues. Nike weighed too much, and had to be removed, but her finial remained. The Palace of Fine Arts originally had eight pairs of plaster guardian lions. Pairs of lions flanked Athena at the South Portico and Augustus at the North Portico of the Central Pavilion and there were two each at the north & south porticos of the East & West Pavilions.  Alexander Phimister Proctor (1860-1950), sculpted the lions flanking the Central Pavilion’s south stairs.  Edward Kemeys sculpted the lions flanking the Central Pavilion’s north stairs.  Augustus Baur sculpted the lions flanking both the north and south stairs of the annexes (East & West Pavilions).  The Palace of Fine Arts held art treasures from around the world.  To protect the world’s art treasures, unlike the other palaces of the White City, the Palace of Fine Arts had a “fireproof” brick substructure under its staff superstructure.  This precaution was undertaken because world leaders were nervous about placing precious objects on display in a city that had been rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The other palaces were made of wood or steel framing clad in a kind of plaster known as “staff.”[3]  Initially, the South Park Commission[4] wanted to tear down the Palace of Fine Arts after The Field Museum of Natural History vacated it in 1920, but sculptor Lorado Taft (1860-1936) rallied groups in support of restoring the building. Mrs. Albion Headburg organized 6,000 women to donate $1 each to restore a small part of the Palace of Fine Arts to show what it could look like. They changed the mind of South Park Commission. The South Park Commission asked voters to approve the sale of $5,000,000 in bonds to finance restoration of the building to serve as a science museum, trade school, sculptural art museum, and convention center.[5]  Dr. Charles R. Richards, author of The Industrial Museum and Director of the American Association of Museums, attested to the suitability of the Palace of Fine Arts as the future home of a science museum in 1925.

      Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), President of Sears, Roebuck & Company, who was already a famous philanthropist, told The Commercial Club of Chicago he would back the foundation of an interactive science museum like Oskar von Miller’s Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik (German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology) in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.  The Commercial Club had earlier sponsored Burnham’s Plan of Chicago (1909). [6]  In 1926, the Museum Association incorporated as the Rosenwald Industrial Museum.  A modest man, Julius Rosenwald persuaded his fellow trustees to drop his name.  In 1929, the Museum Corporation officially changed its name to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Designing the restoration and reconstruction of Atwood’s staff superstructure and brick substructure fell to the architectural firm employed by the South Park Commission: Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White – principally to Alfred Shaw (1895-1970).  He also designed the Art Moderne interior. Upon the death of Messrs. Probst and White, another firm, Shaw, Naess, and Murphy, undertook completion of the new interior’s design, beginning in January of 1937. The façade and substructure underwent restoration and reconstruction between 1929 and 1931.  When it became apparent $5,000,000 would be insufficient to restore the building, Julius Rosenwald pledged to pay for completion of the project, in addition to his endowment pledge of $3,000,000.

Sculptors Fred Bruner and Harry Donato setup shop in the Shawnee Stone Co. facility in Bloomington, Indiana where the rest of the limestone for the new façade of the Palace of Fine Arts was prepared. For the Museum of Science and Industry, Bruner & Donato copied Hering rather than Martiny. Bruner & Donato sculpted statues that copied Martiny’s staff angels from the entablature. They also copied Hering’s Field Museum caryatids and executed in limestone Hering’s entablature figures. This is why the four central figures carved by Bruner & Donato in the 1920s are not replicas of the Martiny’s Muses of Art, Painting, Music, and Sculpture.[7]

The Museum of Science and Industry opened in three stages between 1933 and 1940, with the first opening ceremony on July 1, 1933.  These events coincided with Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-34), which opened on June 1, 1933.

Often stylized as the “Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago” or the “Museum of Science + Industry” the institution is located at the northern end of the Chicago Park District’s Jackson Park, on the south side of 57th Street, between Lake Shore Drive to the east and Cornell Drive to the west, in the East Hyde Park neighborhood of the Hyde Park Community Area (Community Area #41) on the South Side of Chicago.  The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  The M.S.I. is open every day of the year with two exceptions: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  On most days, it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but during peak periods it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The Website is https://www.msichicago.org/ and the phone number is (773) 684-1414.


[1] Some of the palaces were disassembled in Chicago and reassembled in state capitals.  The Peristyle and some other structures burnt down on January 8, 1894.  Seven more palaces burnt down on July 5, 1894.  The German building was turned into a bathhouse, was renamed the Liberty Building during the First Great World War, and burned down.  The Japanese Tea House burned down during the Second Great World War.  The Iowa Building became an eyesore and was demolished at the Museum of Science and Industry’s expense.

[2] Some 19th Century sources state the Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Root and Atwood, but Root’s Second Empire-style design work was not incorporated by Atwood.

[3] Staff is a combination of plaster-of-paris, hemp fibers, and Portland cement.

[4] The South Park District was one of twenty-two park districts in Chicago that merged in 1934 to form the Chicago Park District.

[5] On March 17, 1925, William E. Furlong filed his first lawsuit to enjoin the sale of $5,000,000 in bonds by the South Park Commission to finance the restoration of the Palace of Fine Arts.  On April 23, 1926, the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled against Furlong in Furlong vs. South Park Commissioners, declaring that the sale of $5,000,000 in bonds by the South Park Commission to finance the restoration of the Palace of Fine Arts was legal.  On April 16, 1929, Furlong filed a second lawsuit to enjoin the sale of bonds by the South Park Commission.      On April 17, 1929, Judge Oscar Hebel of the Superior Court of Cook County denied Furlong’s temporary injunction. On June 28, 1929, Furlong filed an amended lawsuit to place an injunction on the South Park Commission’s executing the ordinance passed and agreements made on March 20, 1929.  On June 29, 1929, Judge Hebel denied an injunction by Furlong against awarding the contract to restore the Palace of Fine Arts, and the sale of $1,500,000 in bonds by the South Park Commission.

[6] In 1906-09, Burnham and assistant Edward H. Bennett (1874-1954) drafted the Plan of Chicago with the financial support of Chicago’s Merchants Club, which merged with The Commercial Club of Chicago in 1907.  The report, published in 1909, circulated amongst Commercial Club members and public institutions, and was adopted by the Chicago Common Council at the urging of Mayor Busse.  The Commercial Club of Chicago also sponsored the Chicago Zoological Society.

[7] They are, instead, Hering’s stylized representations of four races and geo-political centers of civilization: Europe, Far East Asia, Egypt, and the Americas. One difference between Hering’s clay maquette and the statues Bruner & Donato made is they gave East more Asiatic features. They also gave West different features, and a different stance. Hering borrowed the imperial orb from Daniel Chester French’s Republic, which had an eagle in place of a cross. A small-scale replica of Republic, funded by the Benjamin Ferguson Fund, stands south of the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park.  The replica is twenty-four feet tall, while the original was sixty-five-feet-tall.



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