Things are big to children. My daughters speak of the “big white house” we lived in when they were little. If I took them by that same house today, they would see a three bedroom prefab slightly larger than a double wide trailer.
I lived in a semi-rural area when I was growing up. Our school took us on a bus trip to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry; now that was BIG.
Not so much, anymore.
The building seems diminished. You used to walk up the steps to the Museum and be overwhelmed by the whole experience; a field of concrete steps, an overwhelmingly huge main hall, huge things in the huge main hall, the whole building—they were each larger than the one before and certainly larger than the world I lived in. It was the “WOW!” factor times four.
Obviously, the building is still large, but somehow it seems diminished. The only stairs, that I saw, going up to the building lead to blocked off doors and had grass growing up through the cracks. You now enter through, what I can only liken to the garage. It is a small room and you get your ticket and walk upstairs, where you show your ticket and enter a maze.
Everything is walled off. The pendulum that seemed bigger than life is cut down to size by being tucked into the stairwell. In fact, most of it is just a set of halls to direct you around. The U-505 German Submarine, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, and the Coal Mine are all still there. But, the fantastic part of the museum was all the interactive things for kids just does not live up to its promise.
Oh, there are fantastic names of promise: The Idea Factory, which was one that we did not enter because of the line; ToyMaker 3000 was pretty lame; The Great Train Story was the old train set-up and an updated set-up of the skyline of Chicago; Whispering Gallery was a hall, Crime Lab was closed; I think the Explore the world’s fair was just the same street of 1800 from long ago.
Granted, we did not have children with us so only saw it through an adult’s eyes. It was me and a sixth grade teacher but we were less than impressed by the interactive stuff they now showed and the teacher definitely felt that a lot of basics of science and industry were missing. I am not really sure if it was the kids or the way they were NOT so impressed, but all they seemed to do is run from room to room and bounce off the walls. However, there were two exhibits that still had the “Wow!” factor for all ages. (And we did see most of the museum, except we did not have time to tour the green house.)
First Wow factor was the Earth Revealed. It is awesome with its real time view of our planet. It is a permanent exhibit of a 6’ diameter, solid carbon fiber globe. Everyone from kids to college boys were debating how it was suspended and how the video projections were done. It was loaded with information from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It has several different shows and follows Earth’s climate and its problems, or weather, or currents, and geophysics. It is free with admission and worth going to the Museum for that alone.
Second was the Harry Potter exhibit but that deserves its own blog
There has been one huge improvement and that was the food. I swear the main protein used to be cockroach legs. Now, you are met with a wealth of choices and healthy food. We had a delicious lunch of pork slices, cut spiced potatoes and corn. Bread was a delicious veggie mini loaf, and all for under $6.00.
Basically though, I hate to say this but the Museum of Science and Industry impressed me as much as going to the mall. Young men stood in front of a store and threw toy birds and twirling things to entice children in to buy and people stopped from exhibit to exhibit and did not smile.
Cheer up, Chicago, you are taking your children out for the day. It SHOULD be fun. Guess I’ve been gone too long.