CHICAGO – The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was filled with marvels. Unfortunately, the fair has been over for a long time.
Thanks to the Museum of Science and Industry, however, it's still possible to be part of the experience in a limited way. The White City ... Then and Now is designed to take visitors back in time on a 90-minute learning adventure.
The tour begins in the museum with an interactive display of the exposition. Participants will use a 3D virtual simulation to see fair buildings. Then they will take a walking tour that will feature the historic aspects of the museum building, which was built for the exposition. It was called the Palace of Fine Arts. (The outside portion of the walk is not wheelchair accessible.)
Included in the tour is information about those who made the White City important, some of the innovations that came out of the fair, and how those inventors and their discoveries still influence people today.
The White City isn't the only tour that expands a visit to the museum. Another one centers on a submarine – U-505: In-Depth Experience. The U-505 is the only German submarine captured by the U.S. Navy during World War II, and it has long made its home at the museum.
The event starts off with a continental breakfast, which is followed by an exhibit guided tour and an interactive on-board tour. After the tour and before the sub opens to the public, participants will be able to look around the submarine and the exhibit. An added treat is the presence of submarine veterans, who will share their stories and answer questions. The U-505 tour is suitable for children 10 and older.
Both offerings require museum admission, as well as a timed-entry ticket, which can be purchased in advance by calling the museum.
After a special tour, there will be plenty to explore for an entire day. One of the newer exhibits, open until Sept. 1, is Earth Explorers. It's good for all ages, but requires an entry-time ticket above the basic admission fee. Explorer packages are available.
The exhibit takes visitors to rainforests, polar regions, savannas, and more, with interactive displays. Among the adventures is a visit to an arctic cabin where guests can see if they have what it takes to live in that environment. Where else could one take flight in a "hot air balloon" over Africa or step into "the jungle" without leaving Illinois? Be sure to check it out.
If you go
What: The White City Then and Now
Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
When: Tours 1 p.m. June 14 and 29, July 12 and 27, Aug. 9 and 24, plus fall and hours
Museum open: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
Cost: $35 for tour plus museum admission of $18 for adults, $17 for 65 and older, and $11 for ages 3-11
What: U-505 In-depth Experience
When: Tours at 8 p.m., May 31, June 14 and 29, July 12 and 27, and Aug. 10 and 30, plus fall and winter hours.
Cost: $40 plus museum admission
Information for both: Go to msichicago.org or call 773-684-1414