Get Kids Curious with a Visit to Museum of Science and Industry

Explore 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits at one of the largest science museums in the world on your next day out with the kids.

Originally built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition, today the Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world. The museum contains 13 learning labs, 35,000 artifacts, a baby chicken hatchery, nine permanent exhibits that attract visitors from around the world and much more. 

With more than 400,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, the Museum of Science and Industry is the go-to place for learning about the science that occurs around us every day — especially for toddlers and young children who are in their “why?” phase. 

Ready to learn and play at MSI? Check out these helpful tips and ideas for exploring the museum with kids. 

Quick details about Museum of Science and Industry

Photo credit: J.B. Spector

Things to do with kids at MSI

Photo credit: Heidi Peters

  • The Pioneer Zephyr is one of the first exhibits you’ll see as you enter the museum. Board the sleek Art Deco train and take a trip back to transit in the 1930s. 
  • Every kid loves making their own Mold-A-Rama souvenir! Learn about the history and making of these plastic novelties at “Mold-A-Rama: Molded for the Future.” 
  • Stand far apart from a friend in the Whisper Gallery and see if you can communicate using only quiet whispers. This sonic experiment is sure to amaze kids! 
  • “You! The Experience” is an exhibit that guests of all ages will enjoy. Have a conversation with yourself as you discover more about what makes you uniquely you. The exhibit explains how factors like lived experiences, choices, personalities and environments all influence our bodies and minds. 
  • Learn about plastic pollution — and what you can do to help — in the emotional and immersive “The Blue Paradox.” 

Photo credit: Heidi Peters

  • Explore a Boeing 727 and learn how planes fly.
  • Explore 2,200 miles of gorgeous scenery, condensed into 1,400 feet of model toy tracks. “The Great Train Story” is a must-see for any little train enthusiasts in your life. Adults will love spotting miniature versions of CTA, Amtrak and Metra trains as they travel through Chicago and the suburbs. 
  • Go underground and explore a true-to-life coal mine. Fun fact: The Coal Mine was MSI’s first exhibit! 
  • See baby chicks and teach your little ones about how one tiny change in our DNA — or a chick’s DNA — can result in big physical changes. 
  • Not sure how to answer when your child asks why the sky is blue or where lightning comes from? Find all the answers at “Science Storms,” a two-level interactive exhibit that’s filled with fun science experiments that teach kids how weather works.
  • Tour a real German U-505 submarine captured in World War II and brought back to Chicago. Viewing the U-boat is included in general admission, but tours require an extra ticket. 
  • A trip to MSI would not be complete without a visit to Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle. This original tiny house is the fairytale castle of children’s dreams — just on a miniature scale. 

Tips for families when visiting

Photo credit: J.B. Spector

  • Purchase tickets online and skip the long admission lines!
  • Pack a lunch to enjoy at the food court, or take advantage of the three dining options located on the museum’s campus. There’s Stan’s Donuts for coffee, sweets, soups, salads and sandwiches; a space-themed cafe for snacks; and the Museum Kitchen offering delicious seasonal menus. 
  • MSI offers a $3 coat check so you don’t have to lug all your layers or bags around the museum. Hang up the coats so you have your hands free to explore. 
  • Rental strollers are available for kiddos who need to get off their feet, ($3 single strollers, $5 double strollers).
  • A nursing room is available for parents who’d like a bit of privacy.
  • There are all-gender restrooms on every floor, and accessible stalls located in every restroom. 

Things to do near Museum of Science and Industry

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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.
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