Travel Christmas Around The World at the Museum of Science & Industry Chicago

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On Saturday, November 18, 2023, Chance the Rapper graciously welcomed all who came, especially the “little ones,” as he flipped the switch to light up the soaring Christmas Around The World’s Grand 4-story tree & Holiday of Lights. This exhibit features photographs of actual snowflakes taken by physicist Ken Libbrecht from CalTech. The snowflakes spin down in an artistic video format. Before the lighting, a Czech Chorale group in old-world costumes sang traditional Christmas songs in their native languages. They invited us to sing “Silent Night” in English as the finale.

Chance the Rapper, Santa Larry & The Grand Tree

The lighting, led by Chance and Santa Larry, was magical. The tree lights and ornaments were gorgeous. Suddenly and surprisingly, snow drifted down upon us while French Horn and tuba played classical Christmas music. If you missed this event, you still have the opportunity to visit this 1942 holiday tradition. It began with one tree being decorated each day for twelve days to honor the Allies who fought beside us during World War II. It has grown to fifty-six Christmas trees decorated by families and organizations by Chicago cultural communities from Armenia to Wales, reflecting their proud holiday traditions.

Fans Watching Chance The Rapper Light The Grand Tree

Our favorite decorated tree was #51 of France. It had a sparkling-lit Eiffel Tower topping. All of the trees are festively decorated and lit around the Grand Tree in the Rotunda. The eight Holiday of Lights: Diwali, Hannukkah, Kwanza, Lunar New Year, Ramadan, St. Lucia, Visakha Puja, and Winter Solstice, are displayed in the Rosenwald Court. MSI has extended hours for the holiday season. Photos with Santa or in front of the Grand Tree start at $25.00 per group. (MSI members receive 10% off). Purchase these timed tickets in the Entry Hall, Santa’s Studio, or the Rotunda.

Blue Whale Film

Chance introduced us to the Social Tree, representing an organization he founded dedicated to empowering youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement. He also announced a family-focused 5th Annual “A Night at the Museum” event at MSI on December 21, 2023. This night will feature free food, guests, and interactive activities. Chance plans on attending. The SocialWorks charity requests toy donations and winter gear as part of its Warmest Winter Initiative.

Blue Paradox SC Johnson

You must return if you have not been to MSI in a while. Everyone I talk to about the MSI usually tells me they have not been there in years. When I question them further we both discover it has been not years but decades. Some very special exhibits should not be missed. Also, you will want to return to the nostalgia of permanent favorite exhibits like Main Street USA, The Coal Mine, The U505 Submarine, the aircraft exhibit, Pioneer Zephyr, the MSI Train, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle (my favorite), and explore the marvels of Mother Nature in the impressive interactive Science of Storms exhibit. The Museum Kitchen offers healthy and savory indulgent food at their various kiosks, and plus there is a Stan’s Donuts that is charming and delightful.

Photo by Jeff Schear Visuals Pompeii Entrance

Pompeii: The Exhibition has been extended until January 15, 2024. Travel back in time 1,900 years to a Roman City perfectly preserved by volcanic ash after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. There are over 150 artifacts on display that clue you in on how the people of Pompeii lived, loved, worked, worshipped, and enjoyed life.

Pompeii Gardens Photo by Jeff Schear Visuals

Blue Paradox, sponsored by SC Johnson, is an immersive exhibit that profoundly impacts your thoughts on our ocean ecosystem. When I was touring this exhibit a few weeks ago, there was a significant contingent of staff from the Shedd Aquarium viewing the exhibit. They informed me they were looking to collaborate with MSI to inform the public of the dangers of increasing microplastic pollution. Be sure to see Blue Whales: Return of the Giants in the Giant Dome Theater.

Science Storms

MSI offers free Museum entry days for all Illinois residents on select days in January and February. Check their ticket website. There is an additional cost for some special exhibits. If you are looking for the perfect holiday gift for those loved ones who seem to have everything, think about a membership to the MSI. Experiences make the best memories.

The Grand Tree in the Rotunda

Photos: Courtesy of Jeff Shears and Kelsey Ryan, MSI Director of Public Relations

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