Is “Pompeii: The Exhibition” Good for Kids? We Explored the Museum of Science and Industry’s New Exhibit to Find Out

Indoor Places to GofallPlaces to Gospringsummerwinter

The Art of the Brick: February 2022 – January 2023

This review originally published on March 4, 2022 and was written by Katie Mayle.

In the first hall, visitors will find replicas of famous masterpieces such as Starry Night by Van Gogh, or Rodin’s The Thinker. The exhibit’s creator, Nathan Sawaya, also includes quite a few larger-than-life original pieces, ending with a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex and a replica of Chicago Artist Hebru Brantley’s “Flyboy”.

The second hall includes even more original and reimagined works, as well as a LEGO infused photography collection. We were very impressed to see beautiful photographs, where items were replaced with LEGO imagery. The attention to detail and creativity in each piece was truly remarkable.

Looking at all of these pieces certainly had us feeling inspired. Luckily, no trip to this exhibit would be complete without some time to play with LEGOs, too. The One Brick Studio invites families use LEGOs as a means to express their emotions. Families were asked to build something representing one of six different emotions, then have their family members guess which one they created.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Exhibits at MSI

This review originally published on November 19, 2019 and was written by Jill Kowalski.

Now through January 5, 2020 the Museum of Science and Industry is showcasing their Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibits. We always love visiting the Museum of Science and Industry and the extra bonus of seeing beautiful Christmas lights, celebrating the season, and learning about world traditions makes it special. Being indoors while enjoying all of it is also a win-win here in Chicago where the weather can make outdoor holiday events unpredictable.

The Museum of Science and Industry invited us to attend the opening of Christmas Around the World, but all opinions are our own.

Christmas museum of science and industry

Perhaps most notable is the grand 45-foot tall tree with more than 45,000 lights! While observing the tree on the main floor, guests can be a part of a “snowfall” that takes place every 30 minutes during the holiday season. It’s especially exciting for little kids, so be sure not to miss it! My kids loved seeing the pretend snow falling from the ceiling and it created a magical ambiance for them.

You can also check out the nearly 60 trees that are decorated to represent more than 50 cultures and countries that make up the Christmas Around the World exhibit. Stop at each tree and learn about all the traditions that are celebrated across the world. They also have Holidays of Lights display cases that feature symbolic objects that honor lights and enlightenment, including Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, and more.

Special Events During Christmas Around the World

On Saturdays and Sundays between now and December 22, 2019 you can watch musical and dance routines performed by volunteers from different communities in the Chicago area. You can also make ornaments from 11 am – 3 pm on these dates (please note that while the performances are included with admission, the color-changing ornament workshop requires an additional ticket purchase). The specific times and dates for performances can be found here. Complete your experience by stopping by the holiday snack shop for hot chocolate and snacks while passing through the exhibits.

Admission and Times

The Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light exhibits are included with general admission into the museum.

December 21-22 and 26-30, 2019 MSI will have extended hours and remain open from 9:30 am until 7:00 pm.

Museum of Science and Industry is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Interested in more unique holiday experiences around Chicagoland? Check out our Guide to Holiday Fun!

The Science Behind Pixar: May 2018 – January 2019

This review originally published on May 22, 2018 and was written by Maggie McAllister.

The Science Behind Pixar opens this Saturday, May 26, 2018 at the Museum of Science and Industry and  includes more than 40 interactive displays, which focus on how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are used by the artists and computer scientists that help bring our favorite Pixar movies to life. Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar movies are made!

My niece and I went to the preview day this morning and we both had so much fun. Even though she is only three and some of the concepts are a little too advanced for her, she had a blast using the displays to move, light and manipulate the Pixar characters.

Tour of The Science Behind Pixar

The exhibit is divided into two rooms, with each room focusing on of the steps of filmmaking: modeling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting and rendering. When you enter the first room you are greeted with a short video that will explain the process prior to you entering the exhibit. The doors then open and Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc are there welcoming you.

Photo compliments of Museum of Science and Industry

Manipulate Jessie’s face from Toy Story by sliding knobs up and down on the computer screen. Is she surprised? Move her eyebrows up and down.  Sleepy? Close and open her eyes. This was one of my niece’s favorite stations. She loved being able to change the way Jessie’s face moved.

Pull levers on the modeling station to see how drawings are made into digital sculptures. By pulling and turning the levers you are able to see the drawings turn into the actual shape used in the movies.

Another favorite of ours was the surface exhibit. Here you are able to see how different colors and textures look on the hood of Lightening McQueen. You are able to choose a color for your car as well as add decals or even add some rust or sparkle to your creation.

Turn the animation wheel to see how scenes come together.  Turn the wheel slowly and see the scene frame by frame.  Spin the wheel faster to play the scene in real time.

Get a first hand experience with lighting by changing the color of the water for Dory. You can understand the challenges that come with trying to get the right coloring and movement for the ocean.

Each station within the exhibit came equipped with a phone you could queue up to get more detailed information about the activity and there were also videos throughout with Pixar members detailing what goes into making each movie. There are also opportunities to take your photo with some of your favorite Pixar characters, including Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sulley, Edna Mode, and Wall-E.

This was a fun exhibit and although the concepts were geared towards older children, my niece who is three had a great time pushing buttons, pulling levers and creating her own Pixar masterpieces! I would highly recommend!

The exhibit opens May 24, 2018 and will run through January 6, 2019. It requires an additional timed-entry ticket: $14 for adults and seniors and $11 for children.

ToyMaker 3000

Located next to Science Storms on the Main Level.
Pay a fee to customize your own spinning top and watch it being made. Each step in the process is labeled and it’s fascinating to see how the machines and robots work. Plus, you end up with a fun toy and souvenir!

Brick by Brick: March 2016 – March 2017

This review originally published March 2016 and was written by Annie Tandy.

Brick by Brick, the new exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, is not only a collection of extremely impressive LEGO structures built by Adam Reed Tucker from Arlington Heights, but it is full of opportunities for kids (and adults!) to interact, build, explore and learn. Would little kids enjoy it? The answer is a resounding “YES!”

My daughter and I went to the opening day this afternoon and it was so much fun. On the car ride home I asked her what her favorite part was, and she said, “I don’t have a favorite part because the whole thing was awesome!” What a fun and interesting way to learn about engineering, architecture, and building principles.

Here is our tour of the exhibit:

There are huge models of famous and amazing structures throughout the exhibit, including the One World Trade Center, Burj Khalifa, Golden Gate Bridge, Ping An Finance Center, The Gateway Arch, International Space Station, Great Pyramid of Giza, American Eagle Roller Coaster, Palace of Fine Arts, Cinderella Castle in Disney World, Roman Colosseum, Hoover Dam, and Fallingwater.


Build and test structures to withstand earthquakes with foam wood blocks. You have a minute and a half to build and then the table shakes, simulating an earthquake. See if your structure survives!


Determine which feels sturdier and stronger: a beam made from a wood plank and an i-beam. It is a simple but great way to see how buildings are made.

Make a bridge from paper and find out what makes it strong enough to hold a bean bag.

Build with black foam blocks and press a button to test its strength in a wind tunnel. My daughter was a little short to reach inside the chamber, but still really enjoyed testing her building.

Find out how pulleys make it easier to lift things, including yourself!


The always popular LEGO building table…


You have the opportunity to build something and see what it looks like on the big screen. It was surprisingly fun to see our creation magnified!

There was also a design challenge where two kids have a friendly, staff-led competition to make the most imaginative, functional, and structurally sound creation.

Create a car and race it down the ramp. Which one wins? Does it survive the impact at the bottom?


This was one of the areas we spent a lot of time in: A room with LEGO DUPLO bases covering the walls! Your imagination is the limit. Very cool.


Check out visions of our architectural future from some of the world’s most innovative architects and try to build from your imagination with white LEGO bricks.

There were kids of all sizes enjoying the exhibit, along with adults! Clear and helpful instructions at each of the stations guided you through the activities and have great explanations of the concepts.

We highly recommend Brick by Brick!

The exhibit opened today and will run through March 2017. It requires an additional, timed-entry ticket ($9 for adults and $7 for kids ages 3-11), included in Explorer ticket packages.

Fun Fact: LEGO DUPLO bricks are eight times the size of original LEGO bricks, yet they both connect to each other. Did you know that they fit together? I never tried that and wished I had a long time ago!

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