New exhibit to blast off at MSI

“Above and Beyond” opens Oct. 4 at Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, and shows the history and future of flight.  

By Arts & Culture Reporter

“Above and Beyond,” an exhibit on the history and future of flight and space travel, will join the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive,  Oct. 4–Jan. 8, 2017.

The exhibit, presented by aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing for its 100th anniversary, previously made stops in eight other cities around the world, including London, St. Louis and Charleston, South Carolina. 

“Above and Beyond” focuses on interactive elements such as flight and space elevator simulations, according to a Sept. 8 press release from the museum.

“It’s always important for MSI to have a lot of hands-on physical experiences in our exhibitions,” said Jeff Buonomo, manager of special exhibitions at the museum. “That’s the nature and core of MSI. If it was all touch screens, then that’s something you could do in your living room.” 

For the exhibit’s Chicago stop, Boeing—headquartered in Chicago at 100 N. Riverside Plaza—commissioned a glass mosaic from After School Matters, an organization that offers after-school and summer programs for teens in the Chicago area.

“The mosaic [represents] the past, present and future of Boeing,” Marlil Razo, manager of corporate giving at After School Matters said. “[It] includes an older model airplane with the Chicago skyline and a large Boeing 737 plane.”

The mosaic was created as part of one of the organization’s summer programs, according to Razo.

MSI added a B&W Seaplane—or Boeing Model 1—for the Chicago exhibit, which was Boeing’s first product, according to Buonomo. 

Though Boeing commissioned “Above and Beyond,” Buonomo said MSI, Boeing and Evergreen Exhibitions, which developed the exhibit, have tried to avoid making it a commercial for Boeing.

“The general public would not know [the exhibit] was specifically tied to Boeing’s anniversary,” Buonomo said. 

According to Jenna McMullin, communications director of Boeing’s centennial anniversary, the exhibit features sections that Evergreen Exhibitions  and Boeing collaborated with NASA, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Air and Space Museum to produce.

“Above and Beyond” mainly targets students in the 7–14 age range but will have something to offer everyone who visits, McMullin said.

“[The exhibit] is about a well-rounded experience in terms of exciting imaginations and exciting the possibilities within this next generation of aerospace visionaries,” McMullin said.

Buonomo said the focus of the exhibit is not purely hands-on, but also has opportunities to teach the science behind flight.

“There’s a lot of hard science,” Buonomo said. “The exhibition’s been organized into several sections—faster, farther and smarter—[that display] the 100-year history of aerospace.”

Buonomo added that the exhibit tries to personalize the scientists in the aerospace field.

“[‘Above and Beyond’ puts] faces to names,” he said. “It’s not just men in white lab coats working. [They are] everyday people.”