BEST MUSEUM FOR THE WHOLE FAMILYMuseum of Science and Industry
The MSI practically invented the idea of hands-on interactive displays, with families hopping aboard the “Coal Mine” exhibition’s train cars to explore the museum’s underground mineral shaft as early as 1933. Since then, the museum has wowed tactile tots and their parents with increasingly sophisticated permanent installations, including a 40-foot kid-controlled vapor tornado in “Science Storms” and a 2005 overhaul of the U-505 German submarine that added interactives such as a control room allowing little sailors to maneuver crash dives and evade destructive depth charges. While several readers talked about the museum being a childhood “cornerstone,” MSI keeps offerings fresh with a rotating array of temporary exhibits, such as this fall’s “Charlie Brown and the Great Exhibit.” 5700 S Lake Shore Dr (773-684-1414).
Other nominees Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, Chicago Children’s Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium