What’s 252 feet long, weighs 700 tons and takes you back in time to 1944? The answer: The U-505 submarine.
And it’s back.
After $35 million and more than a year of painstaking rust removal, repainting and renovations, the “U-505 Submarine” exhibit reopens June 5 at the Museum of Science and Industry.
While you can still tour the inside of the sub, the renovated exhibit now includes other interactive sections, artifacts and historical photographs that chronicle how the U.S. Navy captured this German U-boat in World War II.
“The U-505 is a story that deserves to be remembered and retold,” says Kurt Haunfelner, vice president of exhibits at the museum.
This comprehensive narrative covers history, science, technology, bravery, heroism and mystery. And like any good story, the U-505 experience is divided into chapters. The early chapters provide historical context. You can learn about World War II, the Battle for the Atlantic and the Allies’ fight to contain the German U-boat threat.
The exhibit also allows you to spy on the WAVES room, where military personnel tracked the positions of suspected U-boats. You can even stand on the deck behind Capt. Daniel Gallery as he gives the command to board the U-505.
After the history section, you head into a new building and come face to face with the submarine, where you can walk around it and look up at the conning tower (which houses the periscope).
In the U-505’s new building, the focus shifts to the technology behind submarines. Interactive displays give hands-on lessons on buoyancy, message encryption, periscope operation and dive training. An extra $5 gets you inside the sub for a 15-minute tour.
Even if you don’t tour the sub, you can still experience life on board with a replica of the crew quarters and the kitchen.
“You’ll be able to get a feel for what it was like to sleep in a bunk or make a meal in the galley,” says Haunfelner.
Haunfelner hopes the exhibit will also convey a broader message: “We appreciate that this story is still relevant today, that freedom is a wonderful thing that needs to be protected. These brave men are a wonderful example for us and our kids. This story should not be forgotten,” he says.
The exhibit opens June 5. During the summer, the museum has extended hours until 5:30 p.m. Haunfelner estimates it will take an hour and a half to view the exhibit. Buy sub tour tickets ahead of time. Call (773) 684-1414 or visit www.msichicago.org. Ann Scanlan