The Museum of Science and Industry


On Thursday we used up the last of our CityPass booklet and visited the Museum of Science and Industry. After a scenic 7-mile bikeride down Lakeshore Trail to get there, here was what we saw!

1. U-505

This was my favorite exhibit. It was an ACTUAL German submarine used during WWII that Americans captured in 1944! This was a huge deal because, at that time, U-boats were owning us. When we captured U-505, we took all their maps, codebooks and secret stuff and were able to use it to our advantage. The submarine was HUGE!! I couldn't believe it. For some reason, I always though of submarines as these small little eggshells riding through the ocean...but oooh no. Check out my newly-updated Facebook album for pictures! I'll post a link at the end of this post.

We also got to go on a tour inside the U-505 (another CityPass bonus!), which was so so so cool. Even though the sub looks huge on the outside, on the inside it is cramped. Not a good place for claustrophobe! I couldn't believe that 59 men had to live in there for months at a time. There were probably 20 people on our tour and we barely had room to move around each other. And guess what? There were no showers! None! Not for 3 months! U-boats had to conserve all the fresh water they could, and showers were considered a luxury. Not only that, but there was one cook who was responsible for feeding all 59 men, 3x a time. Talk about hell! Haha being inside that tour was awesome. It was crazy to think that 65 years ago, Nazis were in there.

We learned about all the mistakes they made when the Americans captured them. They just kind of panicked! For example, their codebook was lined with lead so that in the event of capture, they could just throw it into the sea and it would sink to the bottom. The Germans forgot to do that...whoops. Also, there was this valve where, if you took the cap off, it would let water in so you could purposely sink the submarine and all its precious documents. Well, they remembered to take the cap off, but didn't throw it overboad like they were supposed to. In their haste, they just left it on the ground! So when the Americans came in and saw water fill up the U-boat, they were just like "Hmm...maybe this big old plug will stop it." Haha

Anyway, the capture of the U-505 was kept top secret until the end of the war. Nobody knew about it. We broke some Geneva Conventions by not letting the German POWs write home, but we simply couldn't let that happen. If the Germans found out that the U-505 had been captured and not shot down as they'd presumed, our major advantage in maritime war would have been for naught. To make up for this, at the end of the war the POWs had 2 options: full American citizenship, or a free plane ticket home. Most of them took the plane ticket home, which actually wasn't the best idea. The captain, for example, was hated because he'd messed up so bad...not exactly the warm welcome he was looking forward to. Plus, in the 4 years that he'd been a POW, his wife had remarried. Ouch.

2. Apollo 8 Command Module

Okay, okay, I know we just barely got done with a visit to the Adler Planetarium, but that didn't make this exhibit any less cool!! The Apollo 8 CM was the first manned spacecraft to enter lunar orbit! Once again, I wish I could explain to you how incredibly awesome it was to stand there in front of it. It was more than awesome, was humbling. To have an icon of human creativity and engineering right before you, and to think "Wow, my species made that." Not only that, but it was my country that did it. The American space program made the Apollo 8. It makes me beam with pride just thinking about it!

There was also a great replica of the Apollo 11 lunar module, and a short video that accompanied it. The video was all about our landing on the moon, and halfway through it I just started bawling! I just love my country so much I couldn't believe that we did that. That such a monumental accomplishment was ours because of the freedoms the USA endorses, and the creativity that it fosters. To me, the space program is one of the prime examples of America's greatness, so I always get really sentimental about it :)

3. Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle

An accurate description of this description would be this: every little girl's dream come true. This thing made Barbie look like white trash. Silent film star Colleen Moore was always fascinated by dolls and doll houses. She owned several elaborate doll houses as a child, but later in life her father, Charles Morrison, suggested that she should pursue her passion for miniatures and doll houses by creating the "doll house" of her dreams. Her position as one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood gave her the resources to produce a miniature home of fantastic proportions. Beginning in 1928, Moore enlisted the help of many talented professionals to help her realize her vision.

Horace Jackson, an architect and set designer who worked for First National Studios, created the floor plan and layout of the castle with the basic idea that "the architecture must have no sense of reality. We must invent a structure that is everybody's conception of an enchanted castle."

Moore also enlisted the help of art director and interior designer Harold Grieve. Grieve had designed the interiors for Moore's actual mansion, so he was a natural to create the interiors of her fantasy castle.
By 1935 more than 700 individuals had lent their expertise—including surgical instrument lighting specialists, Beverly Hills jewelers and Chinese jade craftsmen. The price tag for this 8'7" x 8'2" x 7'7" foot palace, containing more than 2,000 miniatures, was nearly $500,000.

My two favorite artifacts from the castle were a teeny tiny dictionary...about the size of a thumbnail...which was the first book Colleen's father ever gave to her: "It has all the words you'll ever need to make life interesting." There is also a chapel in the castle, which is home to the world's smallest Bible! When opened, it's about the size of your thumbnail, and get this: it is completely unabridged. How they made type that small, I don't know...but it's pretty amazing!

So that was the MSI! Obviously, there were many more exhibits that we saw, but those were the three that stood out the most. On the bike ride home, we briefly entertained the idea of going to a pro soccer game at Soldier Field (which is right along Lakeshore Trail...our route to get home). The USA was playing Honduras, and then afterwards Mexico vs. Costa Rica. There were sooo many Mexican people walking towards the stadium who were so excited for the game! We were like "Aw man, this game is gonna be sweeeeet!" (Usually, the USA and Mexcio are the only teams worth watching for the Central American Cup, which is what this game was being played for). Unfortunately, we weren't playing Mexico...we were playing crappy Honduras haha. We checked out ticket prices and they were a little too expensive--$40. Had it been USA-Mexico, we probably would have done it...but USA-Honduras? Needless to say, it was a whomping :)

Here is the link for our updated Chicago photo album: Click here!


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