Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

MSI’s So Lit: Christmas Around the World

Photo: Marielle Bokor.

Marielle Bokor, So Lit: The Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Shines, Educates, Third Coast Review, 2 December 2019

The turkey’s been made and eaten (mostly) and Black Friday’s come and gone. Welcome to Cyber Monday, and, much more importantly, the official start of the holiday season. Now, no one can complain when they see lights and trees and hear holiday classics filling the air. If you’re ready to embrace the holiday season, there’s no better way we can think of to do it than getting some family or friends together and hitting the Museum of Science and Industry. In a tradition dating all the way back to 1942, MSI celebrates the holidays like nobody else. And this year, with the introduction of Makers United, there’s even more to do. As it says in blazing neon underneath this year’s main tree, “Holiday Together.”

Photo: Marielle Bokor.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light kicked off well before Thanksgiving and will run through January 3, and features a holiday wonderland, with a stunningly decorated 45 foot tree gracing the rotunda that’ll take your breath away. That’s just the start though, with 62 other trees hand decorated by ‘volunteers from Chicago’s diverse communities’ to represent 62 different nations for Christmas Around The World. Each country’s tree is carefully decorated with ornaments that represent how the holidays are celebrated there or what makes that country unique, and throughout the time the exhibit is open, you’ll find accompanying events representing these nations, which this week alone include appearances by the Bonnie Lindholm School of the Dance, Filipino American Historical Society, Iskra School of Ukrainian Dance and Cherubic Voices Children’s Choir, Finnladies of Chicago, Tambura and Dance Group, The Croatian Vines and Croatian School, Norwegian National League of Chicago, After School Matters with Spanish Dance of Bolivia, Mexico and Latin America and the Aloha Center of Chicago. You can check the full calendar to find out when even more groups arrive.

MSI’s Christmas Around The World. Photo by Marielle Shaw.

Continuing the tradition of inclusivity is Holidays of Light, which educate visitors on and showcases the beauty of the holiday season’s various celebrations of light and enlightenment, such as Hannukah, Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Visahka Puja Day and St. Lucia Day. These gorgeous displays are scattered amongst the trees, with plenty of detail to get you familiar with the holiday if you weren’t already, and plenty of gorgeous pieces to appreciate if you are.

Photo: Marielle Bokor

Added to this year’s already great lineup of festivities is a new ticketed activity at Maker’s United, which we covered in our look at Wired to Wear. For the holiday season, you can participate in Maker’s United’s Holiday Ornament Workshop, where you’ll put together a light up bauble for your tree and learn about circuitry at the same time.

Some other great holiday activities to enjoy at MSI this December include MSI After Hours, Naughty or Nice on December 6, a 21+ holiday party at the museum that features access to the exhibit, appearances by Santa and Krampus, special cocktails, live music and a museum-wide scavenger hunt and “carol-aoke” contest with prizes for the winners. Click here to get tickets.

If truly nice is what you’re after, December 19th brings A Night at The Museum, MSI’s second annual partnership with SocialWorks to benefit the Warmest Winter Initiative which helps directly support Chicago’s homeless population. This event will feature live performances, giveaways and surprises as well as a speaking appearance by Chance the Rapper. Guests should bring warming items to donate. Last year’s benefit garnered 18,000 warming items that went to 15 shelters around the city, and you can be part of breaking that impressive record. To learn more, go to socialworkschi.org.

To sum up–there’s no shortage of holiday cheer at MSI, and with all the amazing exhibits we’ve already come to love, there’s no reason not to make it a stop this holiday season. For more information on events and admission, click here.

Read more: https://www.msichicago.org/explore/whats-here/exhibits/christmas-around-the-world/traditions/armenia-to-bosnia/

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