8 must-sees in the Museum of Science and Industry's 80 at 80 exhibit


When something is invented, it's not the end of the story. It's the just beginning.

That's what Kathleen McCarthy, Director of Collections and Head Curator at the Museum of Science and Industry, hopes kids will take away from the museum's new anniversary exhibit 80 at 80.

80 at 80, which celebrates the museum's 80th birthday, gives visitors a glimpse into the museum's vast collection with 80 handpicked, rarely-seen items.

"We decided to focus on particular stories," McCarthy said.

"What we're about are the stories that technology enables. Technology is only as useful, important and impactful as the lives it touches."

80 at 80 is included in admission to the museum and runs through Feb. 2, 2014.


Dog Treadmill, c. 1872

Chicagoans likely would be tempted to use a doggy treadmill on blustery winter days when Fido needed to burn some energy (and pounds). In 1872, though, families put the pup to work on the dog treadmill, used on farms to churn butter or power a grain mill.


Firefighter Helment, c. 1885

Every museum and play place seems to have a firefighter area these days, and it's no secret why. Kids love to pretend to be the heroes they admire. We think they'll like seeing this very old, and seemingly very heavy, firefighter helment from 1885.


How a Pencil is Made model, c. 1933

Classrooms may be using more keyboards and less looseleaf, but this layout of how a pencil is made still will fascinate school-aged kids. Plus, it's a great opportunity for a "When I was your age..." speech.


Paul Bunyan, 1933

Get inside Paul Bunyan's head. Literally.

The museum has pulled the lumberjack away from the wall so visitors can see how the giant was originally constructed (the model on display is a reproduction).

"It's amazing to see he's styrofoam. We hope kids get excited to see its familiar materials put together to make something unexpected," McCarthy said.


Space Race Playing Cards, c. 1967

Your kids may be excited Justin Bieber is reportedly going to the stars, but do they know just how recently putting a man in space was only a dream? These space race playing cards are a great opportunity to talk to your kids about advancements in technology and discovery as you tell them about the headlines you remember relating to the cosmos.


Strobe Light and Music Water Experiment, 2006

This seems like something grandma would tell you not to stare at or you would go blind, but we couldn't look away. There are a few interactive pieces in the exhibit, but this is by far the most mesmerizing.

Check out our Vine of the experiment!


Velodyne LiDar Sensor, 2013

McCarthy's favorite, the LiDAR Sensor and screen put visitors in the mind of a Google Street View car to better understand just how those maps are made. It's another great example of something at the museum that makes us realize how much we take current technology for granted.


8 TAM, 1970, and Nirvana Album, 1993

This one is for the parents. After being exposed to exhibits like Animal Inside Out, kids probably won't be shocked to see TAM, the Transparent Anatomical Manikin, but moms and dads will recognize her from the cover of Nirvana's "In Utero" album, which also is on display.


80 at 80

Special exhibit showcases 80 rarely displayed artifacts from the museum's extensive collection in honor of the museum's 80th anniversary. These artifacts, carefully selected by MSI curators, will ignite guests' memories from past exhibits but many will be revealed for the first time.

Kids Eat Chicago

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