“To the Moon and Back at the Museum of Science and Industry” by S.M. O’Connor

As part of 50th anniversary celebrations of N.A.S.A.’s Apollo 8 mission, dubbed “To the Moon and Back,” visitors at the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) can re-live the experiences millions of Americans had in watching the Apollo 8 mission orbiting the Moon on television in their living rooms in the pop-up exhibition “Moon Room 1968.”  It opened to the public on Friday, December 6, 2018 and will be open through Sunday, January 6, 2019.  The maximum number of people the exhibition can hold at a time is twenty-five.  By December 16th, over 2,000 visitors had been through “Moon Room 1968.”

The M.S.I. requests that visitors writing about the exhibition on social media use the hashtag #moonroom1968.  [Although the exhibition is referred to as “Moon Room 1968” on the M.S.I. Website and in all promotional materials, the logo that appears in signs reads “1968 Moon Room.”]  The logo for the “Moon Room 1968” merges the two letter Os in Moon into an eternity symbol.

Although the temporary exhibit Smart Home Green + Wired closed in 2013, the house remains standing in the courtyard between the East Pavilion and the Henry Crown Space Center, as I explained in an Instagram post last month, and the ground floor has now been repurposed to house the exhibition “Moon Room 1968.” [1]  [This courtyard was formerly called Beaver Park and is now known as Smart Park.]  Guests access “Moon Room 1968” from the Henry Crown Space Center, which is home to the original Apollo 8 Command Module, occupied by astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Junior; and William Anders during their lunar orbital mission from Saturday, December 21, 1968 to Friday, December 27, 1968.

The Apollo 8 Command Module has been on loan to the M.S.I.’s Henry Crown Space Center from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum since 1971.  The Apollo 8 was the second manned space flight in the American Apollo program. It launched on December 21, 1968 and became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and safely return to Earth. The three astronauts were the Commander, Colonel Frank Borman II, U.S. Air Force (Retired); the Command Module Pilot, Captain James (“Jim”) Lovell, Jr. U.S. Navy (Retired); and the Lunar Module Pilot, Major-General William Anders, U.S. Air Force Reserves (Retired). It was Anders who took the famous Earthrise picture while in the Moon’s orbit.

In addition to the repurposed living room and dining room, the space features a vintage retail shop that offers limited-edition souvenirs with retro M.S.I. logos, and era-inspired items including Lite-Brites, Slinkys, record players, and more.  Moon Room 1968 is open through Sunday, January 6, 2019 (the Feast of Epiphany).  It is included in Museum Entry (general admission) tickets.  The living room was created in partnership with home furnishings and antique store Scout, and Oscar Isberian Rugs.  According to a museum spokeswoman, “Inside the 1960s-inspired living room, guests can watch the Apollo 8 footage on a vintage television surrounded by eta décor; type a letter to Apollo 8 crewmembers Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot Bill Anders; and sit for a holiday photo complete with an aluminum tree, a decorative staple that dominated many homes during eth height of the Space Age.”

“MSI is a museum has always been a ‘please touch’ museum that puts guests at the center of any experience,” stated Anne Rashford, Director of Temporary Exhibits and Business Partnerships.  “The Apollo 8 mission was so transformative in the race to the Moon that we felt the best way to celebrate the 50th anniversary was to put guests into a setting that allows them to really feel the energy and excitement felt by the entire country.”

“We are thrilled to again have partnered with MSI – a world-class institution – to honor one of the most significant events of the 20th Century, stated Larry Vodok, owner of Scout, who partnered with the M.S.I. to decorate its previous Smart Home exhibit in 2008.  “Everything about mid-century décor has become iconic, which creates an immediate vision in guests’ minds.  It was a fun challenge to design an experience that would surprise and delight guests while still honoring the mission and the crew.”

The letters which visitors type out in “Moon Room 1968” will go to the astronauts after the pop-up exhibition closes on Sunday, January 6th.  The Apollo 8 astronauts visited the M.S.I. twice in 2018.  Firstly, they gave a public talk there on April 5, 2018 to promote the book Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon by Robert Kurson.  Secondly, they attended the Columbian Ball, a gala fundraiser, on October 6, 2018.  An M.S.I. spokesman said they seemed to still have the same group dynamic they formed over five decades ago and were “hilarious.”

The gift shop, called the 1968 Moon Room Store, occupies part of the kitchen and the entirety of the corner room on the ground floor that is adjacent to the dining room and across from the kitchen.  It sells M.S.I. and N.A.S.A. brand clothing and memorabilia, books about the Apollo 8 mission and N.A.S.A., rotary telephones, record players, and toys that have been manufactured from 1968.  The retro M.S.I. clothing and memorabilia features the “msi: Museum of Science and Industry” logo from the 1970s and ‘80s.

SignFigure 1 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This wayfinding sign on the Lower Level in the East Pavilion of the Museum of Science and Industry, near the stairs that lead up to the Main Level, as well as to the entrance to the U-505 exhibit hall, points guests down the hallway/gallery into the Henry Crown Space Center.  Along the way, they will pass windows that face the Smart Home and a small display about the old exhibit Smart Home Green + Wired.

2Figure 2 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: The Smart Home and the pop-up exhibition “Moon Room 1968” can only be accessed from the Henry Crown Space Center.  Note that although all of the publicity materials for the exhibition call it “Moon Room 1968” all the signs in it or directing visitors toward it are worded “1968 Moon Room.”

1Figure 3 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Smart Home looked on the morning of Monday, December 24, 2018.

4Figure 4 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the front door and porch of the Smart Home looked on Monday, December 24, 2018.

3Figure 5 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is a close up of the Christmas wreath on the front door of the Smart Home with a sign encircled by the wreath that identifies it as the “Smart Room 1968.”

Moon Room 1968Figure 6 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Here, we see an aluminum Christmas tree, era-appropriate toys, shag carpet, framed red moon print, and sofa, as well as a bookcase.

Moon Room 1968Figure 7 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: The pop-up “Moon Room 1968” includes both the living room and dining room in the Smart Home.

3Figure 8 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: During my visit on Monday, December 24, 2018, a television reporter was interviewing people, including a young boy who pointed out this LEGO® space shuttle, which the reporter had not noticed.  This shuttle is the worst anachronism because space shuttles, which were the first reusable orbital spacecraft, did not launch for the first time until 1981, and this model Utility Shuttle (Set #60078) from the LEGO® City theme (product line) was not released until 2015.  However, this one is special and there is a logic to its presence.  Astronaut Jim Lovell built this LEGO® space shuttle for the 2016 Christmas Around the World.  It tied in with the temporary exhibit Brick by Brick, which was open from Thursday, March 10, 2016 through April 1, 2018.

Moon Room 1968Figure 9 J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: The dining room in the Smart Home has also been redecorated to reflect how dining rooms in some upper middle-class homes looked back in 1968.  The dining room table, the six chairs, the chandeliers, and the centerpiece on the dining room table are different.  This is one of two locations in the exhibition where guests can type letters to the Apollo 8 astronauts.  During my visit on Christmas Eve, a father seemed to be helping his young daughter type a letter.

Moon Room 1968Figure 10 J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: The gift shop is located in a room adjacent to the dining room and across from the kitchen.  I do not recall how this room was originally configured in the Smart Home, but it looks like it would have been a good place to display china and sterling silver.

9Figure 11 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: The gift shop is selling Crosley Radio turntables, which are similar in appearance to record players from the 1960s.  This appears to be a Dansette Bermuda Turntable with Bluetooth and Pitch Control.

12Figure 12 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Wild Wood 746 phone, which is a rotary landline telephone that is a Wild & Wolf replica of the 746 model phone issued in Great Britain by the General Post Office in 1967.

4Figure 13 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Books for sale in the gift shop include Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth by astrophysicist Adam Frank.

6Figure 14 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: The display in this part of the gift shop, sporting a tiny Christmas tree, had books and N.A.S.A.-branded clothing.

3Figure 15 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Memorabilia with the retro logo include t-shirts.

7Figure 16 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This corner of the gift shop has banners and clothing with the M.S.I. emblem from the 1970s and ‘80s, the books Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon by Robert Kurson, Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger, and View from Above: An Astronaut Photographs the World by Terry Virts.

8Figure 17 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This corner of the gift shop includes Locknesters astronaut.

14Figure 18 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: Toys in the gift shop include Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Hot Wheels, Slinky Dog, and Twister.[2]

6Figure 19 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Smart Home, and, beyond, the South Portico of the East Pavilion.

5Figure 20 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is a close-up of the first-floor porches and second-floor balcony of the Smart Home.

7Figure 21 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is a view from inside Smart Park.  We see the East Portico of the Museum of Science and Industry’s Central Pavilion, the Henry Crown Space Center, the gallery that connects the East Pavilion to the Henry Crown Space Center, and a television cameraman shooting the exterior of the Smart Home.

Image (45)Figure 22 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.

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Figure 23 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is former astronaut Captain Jim Lovell, Jr. U.S. Navy (Retired) with the Apollo 8 Command Module in the Henry Crown Space Center in 2009.

Apollo8_0005Figure 24 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the Apollo 8 in the Henry Crown Space Center, as seen on Wednesday, December 10, 2008.

Apollo 8 Command ModuleFigure 25 J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Mr. Spector took this picture of the Apollo 8 Command Module on December 10, 2008.

Apollo 8Figure 26 J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Mr. Spector took this picture of the Apollo 8 Command Module on October 31, 2010.

6Figure 27 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Apollo 8 Command Module looks from the stairs that lead into and out of the Giant Dome Theater.

7Figure 28 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is Commander Borman’s space suit.  In outer space, the side facing the Sun could reach temperatures of up to 250°F and the side facing away from the Sun could reach temperatures as low as -250°F.

 

The Museum of Science and Industry is offering multiple events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission under the banner “To the Moon and Back Again.”  “Conspiracy Theories” was at the Revival Theater on Friday, December 6, 2018.  “Full Moon Fest” was on Saturday, December 22, 2018.

Journey to Space (2015), narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart, began playing in the Giant Dome Theater on Saturday, December 1, 2018 and will play through Sunday, January 6, 2019.  It is screened daily at 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.  On days with extended hours, it is also screened at 5:00 p.m.

Live Science Experiences are N.A.S.A.-themed from Monday, November 26, 2018 through Sunday, January 6, 2019.  Children can get hands-on with oobleck at the Space Slime cart, learn about N.A.S.A.’s new space “Refabricator” 3D printer at the Trash or Treasure Cart, and the N.A.S.A. Innovations cart will show visitors N.A.S.A. inventions we encounter in everyday life.  This is included in Museum Entry.  Check at the Info Desk in Rosenwald Court (North Court) in the Central Pavilion on the Main Level for times and locations of these demonstrations.

A new Earth Revealed program began on Monday, November 19, 2018 that will run through Sunday, January 6, 2019.  The new program illustrates how space exploration inspires new scientific discoveries, and, practical applications of those scientific discoveries leads to new technologies.  Using the Earth Revealed sphere, guests will see firsthand how the Apollo 8 mission improved the science and society of its time, and discuss where we should go next: back to the Moon or on to Mars.  This exhibit in the West Corridor on the Main Level is included with Museum Entry.

2Figure 29 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A.) created Earth Revealed.  The dynamic image of the Earth is created using images captured in outer space by N.O.A.A. and N.A.S.A. satellites.

The 76th annual Christmas Around the World and 24th annual Holidays of Light is ongoing through Sunday, January 6, 2019 (the Feast of Epiphany).   The Grand Tree Lighting Ceremony that opened the 2018-2019 Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light festivals at the M.S.I. took place at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 15, 2018.   This is chance to explore fifty Christmas trees and holiday displays decorated by local volunteers that represent Chicago’s diverse communities and the traditions they celebrate.  Each tree and display, decorated with hand-crafted Christmas tree ornaments that honor customs from around the world, encircle the fifty-five-foot-tall Grant Tree wrapped in 30,000 twinkling lights.  Artificial snow also falls indoors in the Grand Rotunda in the Central Pavilion every thirty minutes.

The traveling exhibit The Science Behind Pixar, which opened on May 24, 2018, is open through January 6, 2018.[3]  This is a chance to learn about the filmmaking process behind Pixar 3D animated movies from Toy Story (1995) to Inside Out (2015).  An additional ticket is required.[4]

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

Figure 30 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Mr. Spector took this picture of a girl taking a picture of a woman in front of the Hanukkah display box in Holidays of Light on January 5, 2018.

CATW_ViewingTrees_0132 (2)Figure 31 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Mr. Spector took this picture of a family looking at one of the Christmas trees in Christmas Around the World on November 16, 2017.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of LightFigure 32 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Mr. Spector took this picture of the Grand Tree in Christmas Around the World on November 15, 2018.

Decorating Trees for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of LightFigure 33 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Mr. Spector took this picture of Christmas tree ornaments in Christmas Around the World on November 7, 2018.

Decorating Trees for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of LightFigure 34 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Mr. Spector took this picture of a woman decorating a Christmas tree in Christmas Around the World on November 10, 2018.

 

The Science Behind Pixar is divided between two galleries, both of which are on what is now called Main Level 2 in the Central Pavilion.  Gallery 1 is in Rosenwald Court (North Court) and Gallery 2 is accessible from Grainger Court (West Court, also known as the Transportation Gallery).

 

6Figure 35 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: A human-sized Buzz Lightyear action figure box, as seen in Toy Story 2 (1999), can be seen in one corner of the subterranean Entry Hall (formerly called the Great Hall) could be seen on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

7Figure 36 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This banner featuring Princess Merida from Brave (2012) could be seen near the ticket counter in the Entry Hall on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

21Figure 37 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: These banners featuring characters from Coco (2017) and Inside Out (2015) could be seen flanking the stairs leading up to the Lower Court on the Lower Level (ground floor) on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

9

Figure 38 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is the entrance to The Science Behind Pixar – Gallery 2 in the Transportation Gallery.

 

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, the M.S.I. reverted to regular hours (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).  Extended hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) will be in play again Wednesday, December 26, 2018 through Sunday, December 30, 2018.    On 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. 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 address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  Founded by Sears, Roebuck & Company President Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932) in 1926, through The Commercial Club of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry opened in three stages between 1933 and 1940.  It occupies the Palace of Fine Arts from Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893).  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] The difference between an exhibit and an exhibition at a museum is the duration.  An exhibition is on display for less than three months.  If it is on display for more than three months, it is an exhibit. An exhibit labeled as a “temporary exhibit” may be open for anywhere from three months to a few years but the curators, executives, and spokesmen or spokeswomen want visitors to know the exhibit will only be open for a limited time and they cannot expect to come back and see it for generations the way they have been able to see the Coal Mine, Yesterday’s Main Street, the Gallery of Model Ships, or U-505 at the Museum of Science and Industry; or the mummies or the Lions of Tsavo at The Field Museum of Natural History; or the Thorne Rooms at The Art Institute of Chicago; or the Atwood Sphere, which used to be at the Chicago Academy of Sciences and is now at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.

[2] Naval engineer Richard James (1914-1974) invented the Slinky® with the help of his wife, Betty.  [Mrs. James ended up running the company by herself for decades.  In 1960, Richard James more-or-less abandoned her and their six children (ages two-to-eighteen) to join a cult and died in Bolivia in 1974, as Mrs. James recounted for The New York Times in 1996.]   Helen (Herrick) Malsed (1910-1998) suggested to James Industries they develop Slinky® dogs and trains and the company honorably paid her royalties.  The Slinky® Dog was redesigned for the character Slinky Dog (a.k.a. Slinky) in Pixar’s Toy Story (1995).  The Slinky® Dog being sold in the 1968 Moon Room Store is a Slinky Dog RetroSlinky® is now manufactured by Alex Brands®.

[3] The Museum of Science, Boston developed The Science Behind Pixar in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios.  BMO Harris Bank is the local sponsor of The Science Behind Pixar.

[4] The exhibit is not included in Museum Entry (general admission) and requires an additional, timed-entry ticket, $14 for adults and senior citizens and $11 for children.  For Museum Members, tickets are $7.

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