“2018 Christmas Around the World Opening Ceremony at the Museum of Science & Industry” by S.M. O’Connor

The Grand Tree Lighting Ceremony that opened the 2018-2019 Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light festivals at the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) took place at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 15, 2018.  GATX Corporation is the sponsor. As early as 1941, the M.S.I. had a physics demonstration called “The Science Behind Santa,” but the M.S.I. began hanging flags and celebrating Christmas Around the World during the Second Great World War in support of the United Nations (then an alliance against the Axis Powers) in 1942.  The M.S.I. added an ancillary exhibit, Holidays of Light, bringing attention to Chinese New Year, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Saint Lucia Day, and Shogatsu in 1994. Erin Okamoto Protsman wrote two books about Christmas Around the World: Season of Celebrating: A Cookbook From the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Christmas Around the World” and “Holidays of Light” Festivals, published by the M.S.I. in 1997 and Traditions: A Guidebook from the Museum of Science and Industry’s “Christmas Around the World” and “Holidays of Light” Festivals, published by Favorite Recipes Press in 1999.

The choir of Matthew Gallistel Elementary Language Academy (one of the Chicago Public Schools) performed songs and their accompanying string instrument section played music at the opening ceremony on Thursday.  Third grade students from a charter school sat on the floor before and during the opening ceremony, listening to the concert and then hearing remarks from David Mosena and Chance the Rapper.  The schoolchildren (choir, musicians, and audience) and their teachers were cordoned off behind stanchions.  Most M.S.I. employees and volunteers stood on the other side of those stanchions in Rosenwald Court (North Court), where they were joined by the first museum visitors to arrive in the morning.  The press stood in an adjacent section of Rosenwald Court, cordoned off from the general public behind stanchions so cameramen would not be jostled and museum spokeswomen could answer questions posed by journalists.  A smaller group of M.S.I. employees and volunteers stood inside Allstate Court (West Court), in front of the physics exhibit Science Storms.

David Mosena, President and C.E.O. of the M.S.I., thanked the volunteers and GATX after he thanked the schools and commended the schoolchildren for being able to sit quietly (before he made his opening remarks).  He noted that over 500 volunteers had decorated the Christmas trees and other holiday displays.

Mr. Mosena then introduced Chance the Rapper (Chancellor Jonathan Bennett), who grew up in the West Chatham neighborhood in Chatham (Community Area #44), on the South Side of Chicago.  Chance the Rapper thanked the M.S.I. for hosting Christmas Around the World and told the schoolchildren he had come to the M.S.I. often when he was around their age when he was on field trips organized by the Chicago Park District.  Mr. Bennett announced his charitable organization Social Works (stylized SocialWorks), would be hosting “A Night at the Museum” event at the M.S.I. on Thursday, December 20, 2018.  [Last year, he hosted such an event at The Field Museum of Natural History.]  The event will be from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  A Night at the Museum will feature activities, performances, giveaways, and surprises.  There will be over fifty activities.  They want guests to bring coasts, gloves, mittens, hats, scarves, and blankets to donate for homeless people. This is part of the SocialWorks Warmest Winter Initiative.  Last year, thousands of people attended the event and donated 10,000 articles of clothing.  They specifically want “warming items” for homeless people, but a deck of cards or an old MP3 player with a charger and headphones would also be welcome.  Tickets are $10 each or four for $30.  Click here to purchase tickets through Eventbrite.  Click here to purchase tickets through Facebook.

Image (44)Figure 1 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the front cover of the 2018 Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Exhibit Guide.

Image (45)Figure 2 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the back cover of the 2018 Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Exhibit Guide.  The Museum of Science and Industry is also celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of N.A.S.A.’s Apollo 8 mission, as I noted at the start of the month.

5Figure 3 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Burlington Zephyr, also known as the Pioneer Zephyr, is decorated for Christmas Around the World, as seen before the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

6Figure 4 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: To promote The Science Behind Pixar, there is a human-sized Buzz Lightyear toy package – as seen in Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) – in the northeastern corner of the Entry Hall, near the M.S.I. Museum Store gift shop.

21Figure 5 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: As one ascends the stairs and escalators from the Entry Hall to the Lower Court on the Lower Level (ground floor), one passes banners for the traveling exhibit The Science Behind Pixar.

20Figure 6 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Lower Court looks (when it is decorated for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light) as one ascends the stairs from the Entry Hall.

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Figure 7 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Grand Tree and standard-sized Christmas trees in the Grand Rotunda looked before the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on Thursday, November 15, 2018.  I am sharing this picture to show the Grand Tree is a thing of beauty even before it is lit up.  The choir from Matthew Gallistel Elementary Language Academy is performing on the left.  The rings of lights suspended from the dome that illuminates the Grand Tree even when it is not lit up itself is also projecting moving images of a green starry sky up onto the interior of the dome.

12Figure 8 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Grand Tree and standard-sized Christmas trees in the Grand Rotunda looked during the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light as the artificial snow began to fall on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

13Figure 9 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Grand Tree and standard-sized Christmas trees in the Grand Rotunda looked immediately after the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

14Figure 10 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Grand Tree and standard-sized Christmas trees in the Grand Rotunda looked from the Rosenwald Court (North Court) balcony shortly after the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

15.jpgFigure 11 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Grand Tree and standard-sized Christmas trees in the Grand Rotunda looked from the Farrell Family Court (South Court) balcony shortly after the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

16Figure 12 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Grand Tree and standard-sized Christmas trees in the Grand Rotunda and Farrell Family Court (South Court), Toymaker 3000, the Coal Mine headframe, and Texaco No. 13 airplane looked from the Farrell Family Court balcony shortly after the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

17Figure 13 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: A Mold-A-Rama machine in Rosenwald Court near the entrance to Extreme Ice is making green Christmas tree mementos.

Image (44)Figure 14 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption:  This “Tree Map” is a partial floorplan of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Main Floor in the Central Pavilion that shows the layout of Christmas trees and displays boxes for Christmas Around the World and display boxes for Holidays of Light in the Grand Rotunda, Transportation Gallery in Grainger Court (East Court), Rosenwald Court (North Court), and Farrell Family Court (South Court).

22Figure 15 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Museum Members receive a 10% off discount in the Holiday Shop, which is located in Rosenwald Court, on the east side of the stairs and escalators that lead down to the Lower Court on the Lower Level (ground floor).

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Figure 16 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Some museum visitors who have been coming to the M.S.I. for decades may recall before the Great Hall (now called the Entry Hall) opened, the main gift shop was located where the Holiday Shop is now located.

24Figure 17 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This line of Christmas trees in the Rosenwald Court (North Court) is west of the stairs and escalators that lead down into the Lower Court.

25Figure 18 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Under the wayfinding sign that points museum guests (who have tickets for The Science Behind Pixar) to The Science Behind Pixar Gallery 2 in Grainger Court (East Court) is a crèche (also known as a nativity scene or a manger scene) displayed by the Committee of Italian Americans.  It is from the DiNello Family Collection.  Greg DiNello is responsible for the display.  The history of the crèche can be traced back to 1223, when Saint Francis of Assisi organized a Christmas pageant with actors and live animals.

27Figure 19 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Egypt Christmas tree.

26Figure 20 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox church, is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.  The Patriarch of Alexandria, also known as the Pope of Alexandria, heads a church founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist with between 18,000,000 and 22,000,000 Coptic Christians today.

28Figure 20 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Eire or Republic of Ireland Christmas tree (flanked by the Belize Christmas tree to the left and the China Christmas tree to the right).

29Figure 21 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Saint Patrick was a Romanized Briton who was enslaved by Irishmen who made him a shepherd.  He had been an irreligious youth but turned to the consolation of religion in his solitude.  After his escape, he went to Roman Gaul (which more or less corresponds with modern France), where he became a priest and a missionary bishop with a mandate to return to Ireland (which the Romans had called Hibernia).  There were very few Christians in Ireland when Saint Patrick returned to the island, and there were no cities in which to plant new bishoprics, so he focused on spreading Egyptian style monasticism.

 

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, the M.S.I. reverted to regular hours (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).  On the weekend of Saturday, November 17, 2018 and Sunday, November 18, 2018, the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The M.S.I. will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 22, 2018) and the First Day of Christmas (Tuesday, December 25, 2018).  Extended hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) will be in play again from Friday, November 23, 2018 to Sunday, November 25, 2018; Saturday, December 1, 2018 and Sunday, December 2, 2018; Saturday, December 8, 2018 and Sunday, December 9, 2018; Saturday, December 15, 2018 and Sunday, December 2016; Sunday, December 23, 2018; and Wednesday, December 26, 2018 through Sunday, December 30, 2018.  There will be longer hours, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 22, 2018.  On Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24, 2018) and New Year’s Eve (Monday, December 31, 2018), the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  On New Year’s Day (Tuesday, January 1, 2019), the M.S.I. will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  From Wednesday, January 2, 2019 through Friday, January 4, 2019, the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Regular hours (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) will resume on Saturday, January 5, 2019.  The Museum of Science and Industry regularly makes small adjustments to this schedule, so when planning a trip there, check this Webpage and the M.S.I.’s social media for updates.

EXTENDED HOURS AND EXCEPTIONS

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Closed Thanksgiving Day

(Thursday, November 22, 2018)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, November 23, 2018

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sunday, November 25, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sunday, December 9, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

 

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, December 23, 2018
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Christmas Eve

(Monday, December 24, 2018)

Closed Christmas Day

(Tuesday, December 25, 2018)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. New Year’s Eve

(Monday, December 31, 2018)

11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. New Year’s Day

(Tuesday, January 1, 2019)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Friday, January 4, 2019

 

Often stylized as the “Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago” or the “Museum of Science + Industry” the institution is located at the northern end of the Chicago Park District’s Jackson Park, on the south side of 57th Street, between Lake Shore Drive to the east and Cornell Drive to the west, in the East Hyde Park neighborhood of the Hyde Park Community Area (Community Area #41) on the South Side of Chicago.

The Museum of Science and Industry is housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, also known as the Fine Arts Building, which is the last palace from the White City fairgrounds of Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), still standing in Jackson Park.[1] Thus, the building turned 125 years old this year.  The façade is modeled on temples standing on the Acropolis of Athens.  Upon the exposition board naming him Director of Public Works for the World’s Columbian Exposition, on October 30, 1890, Daniel Hudson Burnham, Sr. (1846-1912) named his partner John Wellborn Root, Sr. (1850-1891) the supervising architect and the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) the supervising landscape architect.[2]  Root died after visiting Jackson Park on a stormy night. Burnham replaced him with Charles B. Atwood (1849-1895) as Chief Architect of the World’s Columbian Exposition and Atwood personally designed the Illinois Central Railroad Station, the Peristyle of the Court of Honor, and the Palace of Fine Arts.

The neoclassical design Atwood developed for the Palace of Fine Arts combined Roman domes with Ionic Greek columns, statues, and frieze panels.  He borrowed the Central Pavilion’s north portico from a painting of a fanciful art museum by Paul-Albert Besnard (1849-1934) that had won the Prix de Rome. Atwood had two assistants. Alexandre Sandier had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Besnard.  Ernest R. Graham (1868-1936) coordinated much of Atwood’s work on-site, including aspects of the Palace of Fine Arts.

      The Palace of Fine Arts held art treasures from around the world.  To protect the world’s art treasures, unlike the other palaces of the White City, the Palace of Fine Arts had a “fireproof” brick substructure under its staff superstructure.  This precaution was undertaken because world leaders were nervous about placing precious objects on display in a city that had been rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The other palaces were made of wood or steel framing clad in a kind of plaster known as “staff.”[3]  Initially, the South Park Commission[4] wanted to tear down the Palace of Fine Arts after The Field Museum of Natural History vacated it in 1920, but sculptor Lorado Taft (1860-1936) rallied groups in support of restoring the building. Mrs. Albion Headburg organized 6,000 women to donate $1 each to restore a small part of the Palace of Fine Arts to show what it could look like. They changed the mind of South Park Commissioners, whereupon the South Park Commission asked voters to approve the sale of $5,000,000 in bonds to finance restoration of the building to serve as a science museum, trade school, sculptural art museum, and convention center. Dr. Charles R. Richards, author of The Industrial Museum and Director of the American Association of Museums, attested to the suitability of the Palace of Fine Arts as the future home of a science museum in 1925.

Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), President of Sears, Roebuck & Company, founded the Museum of Science and Industry in 1926 through The Commercial Club of Chicago, of which he was a member.  [The Commercial Club of Chicago had earlier sponsored the Plan of Chicago (1909) by Burnham and Edward H. Bennett (1874-1954).] Rosenwald expressed a desire to establish an interactive science museum like Oskar von Miller’s Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik (German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology) in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.

Designing the restoration and reconstruction of Atwood’s staff superstructure and brick substructure fell to the architectural firm employed by the South Park Commission: Graham, Anderson, Probst, and White – principally to Alfred Shaw (1895-1970).  He also designed the Art Moderne interior. Upon the death of Messrs. Probst and White, another firm, Shaw, Naess, and Murphy, undertook completion of the new interior’s design, beginning in January of 1937. The façade and substructure underwent restoration and reconstruction between 1929 and 1931.  When it became apparent $5,000,000 would be insufficient to restore the building, Julius Rosenwald pledged to pay for completion of the project, in addition to his endowment pledge of $3,000,000.

The Museum of Science and Industry opened in three stages between 1933 and 1940, with the first opening ceremony on July 1, 1933.  These events coincided with Chicago’s second World’s Fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-34), which opened on June 1, 1933.

The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  The M.S.I. is open every day of the year with two exceptions: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  On most days, it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but during peak periods it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The Website is https://www.msichicago.org/ and the phone number is (773) 684-1414.

ENDNOTES

[1] Some of the palaces were disassembled in Chicago and reassembled in state capitals.  The Peristyle and some other structures burnt down on January 8, 1894.  Seven more palaces burnt down on July 5, 1894.  The German building was turned into a bathhouse, was renamed the Liberty Building during the First Great World War, and burned down.  The Japanese Tea House burned down during the Second Great World War.  The Iowa Building became an eyesore and was demolished at the Museum of Science and Industry’s expense.

[2] Some 19th Century sources state the Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Root and Atwood, but Root’s Second Empire-style design work was not incorporated by Atwood.

[3] Staff is a combination of plaster-of-paris, hemp fibers, and Portland cement.

[4] The South Park District was one of twenty-two park districts in Chicago that merged in 1934 to form the Chicago Park District.

 

 

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