When I first laid eyes on it, the Museum of Science & Industry reminded me more of a governmental building than a museum.
The lawn was perfectly manicured, of course; and the façade of the building just screamed neoclassical.
Do you notice how it looks a bit like a court building? Yeah, that’s neoclassical. Yet far more interesting than any court building, this was a renowned museum containing many treasures. Treasures we are about to see.
There was A LOT to see in this museum, so I’m breaking it up into multiple articles. Today we’re going to explore the three highlights you absolutely cannot miss within the Space Center wing, one of my favorite spots in the entire museum. It’s beloved by geeks and growth-oriented travellers alike, so let’s begin!
1. See the Apollo 8 Command Module up close
As the sticker on the exhibit signified, this behemoth is the real deal. Launched in December 1968, Apollo 8 was actually the 2nd manned mission in the Apollo space program and became the first manned craft to reach the Moon and return to Earth.
You’ll see this ahead and to the right just as you walk into the space center. It’s hard to miss, and the years (and miles!) were written all over its hull. If it could talk, I imagine it would have a deep, wise voice and tell many stories of lunar exploration. Speaking of space exploration, right nearby I was able to:
2. Behold the History of Rocketry at a Glance
As you can see, this section offered a concise history of rocketry in one glance, spanning the Apollo rockets all the way up to the Space Shuttle program. Best of all, a display in the opposing wall was playing the most famous space speech ever given (and what I consider the most inspiring presidential of speech of all time), that being JFK’s speech in Rice Stadium when he declared that America would go to the moon before the end of the 1960s.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”
~ John F. Kennedy [1962.09.12]
And we did.
3. Experience the Omnimax Theater featuring “Hubble”
A visit to MSI is only half-complete until you experience their Omnimax Theater. Think IMAX times IMAX. The screen literally fills your entire view and stretches to absurd heights above your head, creating a really cool immersive experience.
When I was there, the film simply entitled “Hubble” was playing which was all about the mission to repair the Hubble space telescope in 2009. In the film, we saw the very human story of the repair mission and how close the Hubble came to becoming space junk before its time (pretty close); and then explored what the Hubble allows us to see, diving into nebulas and exploring the accretion disks of black holes deep within them.
I never thought that a movie about space could ever move me to tear up, no matter how large the screen was. But when I saw what the astronauts went through—the stress, the uncertainty, and the eventual success… Seeing the world from their perspective in low Earth orbit (including a beautiful view of the Hawaiian Islands) actually got me a little misty.
Of course, since the film concluded with a magnificent view of our fragile planet from high orbit while hearing “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, I shouldn’t be entirely surprised that I left the theater a little misty-eyed.
Since you may not be familiar with this incredibly moving version of the song, I’ve included a video the song just below. And perhaps while you listen to it, you can close your eyes and imagine the awe-inspiring beauty of our blue globe from space.
How thankful I am. How thankful I am…
We explore the amazing atmospheric exhibit, complete with a vortex machine over 10 meters tall! Also, tons more photos that I wasn’t able to include in this article are over at the Byteful Gallery in the MSI Space Center photo gallery. Share & enjoy.