Science is woven into any liberal arts education. For those attending liberal arts college in Chicago who want to spend a weekend immersing themselves in all sorts of scientific study and history, all they need to do is head down to Lake Shore Drive. The natural view is beautiful, but what can be found inside the ornate buildings which populate this area (a part of which is actually called Museum Campus) will help open your mind to scientific wonder.
Here are a few of the top spots to be sure to stop at:
Chicago Field Museum of Natural History
The Chicago Field Museum of Natural History can trace its origins back to the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. It was originally known as the Columbian Museum of Chicago (the fair was actually called the World’s Columbian Exposition) and later renamed after its original benefactor Marshall Field.
While it started off as a way to permanently store the collection of natural history artifacts on display at the fair, it now houses over 24 million specimens. It is one of the top three natural history museums in the US, along with the American Museum of Natural History (New York) and the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC).
In addition to its permanent collection, the museum plays host to several travelling exhibitions and unique events. Currently, these include:
- Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti: This exhibition invites attendees to look beyond the stereotypical Hollywood notion of Voodoo and immerse themselves in a rich spiritual, cultural and social tradition that exists in Haiti today. The exhibition runs until April 26th 2015 and a companion event #spiritsforspirits runs at nine Chicago bars until February 28th 2015.
- Dozin with the Dinos: Presumably inspired by the film A Night at the Museum, the Field is giving people a chance to explore the museum by flashlight and spend the night. Students at liberal arts colleges in Chicago should be advised to bring along a nephew, niece, brother or sister, because overnight stays are only open to groups which include kids 6-12.
The Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Drive
Opened in 1930, this was the first Planetarium in America. These days it boasts some of the most advanced planetarium projection technology. It is also connected to a research institute and the only observatory in Chicago. Their 21+ Adler After Dark series of events is very popular, as are their overnight stays for families. Some of the non-permanent exhibitions it holds include:
- Worlds of Chesley Bonestell: An exhibit of artwork by the “father of modern space art” running until April 26 2015.
- Astronomy in Culture: A historical look at the practise of astronomy in ancient and medieval cultures.
The Museum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry isn’t just a large museum in an ornate old building, it’s actually the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. Housed in the former Art Palace from the Chicago World’s Fair, the MSI has really taken advantage of the building’s brick substructure.
At the MSI you’ll find:
- A replica coal mine (full-scale)
- A German U-Boat Submarine
- The Pioneer Zephyr, the world's first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train
- A near real-time view of planet earth
- The Future Energy Chicago game designed to give participants a chance to create a more sustainable city
Not all exhibits are permanent, but some last for years. Have a look at their video trailer:
Do you plan to make a trip to Lake Shore Drive and check out some of these museums?