Animal Inside Out: What to Know Before You Go

The Museum of Science and Industry’s “Animal Inside Out” easily ranks in the Top 3 of Chicago’s must-see museum attractions this summer.

And being that MSI is home to the exhibition’s U.S. premiere, it’s going to garner a lot of tourist attraction as well. And deservedly so—it’s a feast for the eyes and the mind.

From the creators of the popular “Body Worlds” exhibition comes this next chapter in plastination, the animal kingdom. Visitors will take in creatures that span the spectrum, from the depth of the sea to the tops of trees. The artful display takes out the creep factor that could scare some kids, especially when some of the animals included are ones we’ve welcomed into our homes.


Here’s what you need to know before you go:

See: Well, everything of course. It’s just easier said than done. The exhibit is immense, covering two temporary gallery spaces on the main floor. (This means you’ll have to take a trip through the rotunda to get to Gallery 2, so if you’re traveling with kids, make sure you have them in tow as you leave Gallery 1, otherwise, they may get sucked into the equally entertaining “Science Storms” exhibit.)

It was clear from my group of kids—and adults—that the bull is the star of Gallery 1. The muscular structure on display makes it clear why we’ve always been told to stand next to a cow and not behind one.


Gallery 2 makes its strongest impression up front with the giraffe, which towers over visitors as they enter—but even more impressive for me was the equally tall glass-slice cross section of the giraffe’s circulatory system, which looked like a Chihuly installation. Yes, there’s art in science.

Skip: The crowds that surround specimens from time to time, and instead hang back and chat it up with the museum docents charged with keeping an eye over the exhibit. (I guarantee the proximity to the specimens will make you want to reach out and touch, but it’s still a no-no.) These are the employees that bring the informational placards to life, and make the visit truly informational. And they’re eager to talk to you, too.

Tip: It’s always fun to be one of the first to see or do anything, but in this case, the spoils may go to the patient in nature. Two of the exhibit’s likely most impressive specimens—a gorilla and an elephant—are being held up by U.S. Customs in connection to endangered species laws. Though there is no firm timetable on when, or even if, those two animals make it to Chicago and are put on display, it’s definitely worth the wait of at least a few weeks to see them.


Animal Inside Out” runs through September 2 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 57th St. and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. The museum is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. This exhibit requires an additional timed ticket, with discounts available to members. For specific admission information, visit the museum website or call 773-684-1414.

Photos ©ANIMAL INSIDE OUT, a BODY WORLDS Production, All rights reserved.