---- — Even though it might be crowded, you could still hear your footsteps echoing as you explored the many galleries of the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago, Ill. People had come from around the world just to explore this well-known point of interest located within a couple hundred yards of Lake Michigan. From Lake Shore Drive you could see a German Submarine that had been captured and brought to its final resting-place at the museum. Once entering the museum through its massive doors, you can’t help but stand in awe at everything that lies all around you. As you gaze toward the ceiling, planes from as far back as the Wright Brothers to the once futuristic supersonic jets, hang suspended as if frozen in time.
Suddenly, the shrieking sound of a steam whistle forces everyone to glance further into the museum where a replica of a working coal mine is located. To enter the dark, dangerous underworld of mining, we have to climb at least 30 feet into the air on metal stairs that can bring out our unknown fear of heights that has lain dormant until now. Once, we are greeted by a guide wearing a hard hat with a lamp attached, everyone is herded into a rickety old elevator. After being packed in like sardines, a heavy metal door slams shut, thus securing us for our long trip down into the unknown world of the miner. After experiencing these make-believe dangers, everyone was led out of the darkness and into one of the many great halls of the museum.
Glancing into one of the many large rooms, I spied what would end up being my most favorite part of the museum — the large electric train display. I can’t even begin to remember just how many different trains were on display, but there were many. I watched in amazement as trains entered and exited the many tunnels that worked their way through imaginary mountains. Some were freight trains that traversed through the open country, while others wound their way around small towns and manufacturing sites. Miniature people stood on make-believe street corners as if waiting for a bus, while replicas of children and dogs played in yards that surrounded their tiny houses. Trains were coming and going in every direction, so much so that I became dizzy trying to take in all that was happening before my eyes. I often pretended that I was small enough to be riding on one of the passenger cars that were heading to some unknown and exciting destination.
One of my favorite stops is a small room that surrounds a fairy castle. Nearly all that you see is absolutely real — everything from real china plates and sliverware, miniature books that include tiny print, to the paintings that hang on the walls of the castle. As you walk along the railing that separates you from the glass-encased castle, there are phones that you can pick up and listen to the narration that is given by the woman who collected everything you see before you. There are tiny fireplaces, spiral staircases and even a cradle that sits atop a willow tree in a courtyard that represents the song “Rock a bye baby, in the tree top.” As you climb the marble stairway that leads from one magnificent floor to another, you will eventually stumble into the large gallery that holds the many mysteries of our human bodies. What I feel is one of the more morbid or frightening displays, especially for children, is the large heart that you can actually walk through (as it beats). Next to this display is a numerical counter that clicks a new number for every new death that is related to heart disease. It always made me wonder if my number was up next. I thought that was one of the creepiest things I had ever seen. Located on a wall adjacent to the heart were several glass jars filled with formaldehyde. What was contained within those jars was nothing short of a miracle. Babies, all the way from conception to full-term (nine months) were held within those vials. I’m not exactly certain where they were obtained, and I don’t really want to know, but what a great way to introduce children to the miracle of life. It really makes it easy to explain just where babies do come from. I didn’t see a cabbage patch anywhere.
You can spend days, if not weeks, discovering new things in this unique museum that is unlike any other in the world. So let’s do what has come natural to us since the beginning of time, explore.
Contact Raymond Snoke at firstname.lastname@example.org.