Christmas Around the World - Museum of Science and Industry

During the holidays, the Museum of Science and Industry gets dressed up in its holiday best. The annual Christmas around the World exhibit (on display November 19, 2015 - January 3, 2016) showcases more than 50 trees and crèches, each festooned with traditional ornaments and decorations by members of Chicago's ethnic communities. This year’s celebration is inspired the Museum’s temporary exhibit — Robot Revolution.

Here's our insider's guide to the Museum of Science and Industry's Christmas around the World festivities.


SEE: A Robot-inspired Tree & Magical Snowfalls

It's impossible to miss the must-see big tree: in the museum's rotunda a 45-foot Grand Tree stands proudly, decked out with more than 30,000 twinkling colorful lights and hundreds of robot-figure ornaments and trimmings. Wear your hats and gloves — “snow” falls every half hour!

Take a stroll on the museum’s Main Floor through the forest of 50, 12-foot trees beautifully decorated by volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities, a museum custom began for local families in 1942 as a United Nations Day salute to the Allies during World War II. See if you can spot the Puerto Rican tree, decorated with a musical instruments such as guitars, maracas,  and tambourines, symbolizing the Parrandas: musicians who go door to door during the six weeks of Christmas celebrations. China’s tree is decorated with handmade fortune cookie ornaments and the Chinese characters for happiness, good will and prosperity.


LEARN: "Holidays of Light" Multicultural Traditions

The Holidays of Light display showcases celebrations that focus on light or enlightenment. Each year, the display highlights the traditions of the Chinese New Year, Diwali (a Hindu and Sikh festival), Kwanzaa (celebrated by African Americans), Ramadan (celebrated by Muslims), Hanukkah (a Jewish holiday),Visakha Puja Day (a Buddhist holiday), and St. Lucia Day (a Swedish tradition).


CELEBRATE: Holiday Stage, and Santa Himself!

Plan your visit around one or two of the many joy-filled performances taking place on the museum's Holiday Stage. Talented dance troupes and choirs that represent the different cultures and countries showcased in Christmas Around the World will hit the stage every weekend In addition, choral performances from area schools will present holiday favorites during select weekdays. A full schedule of Holiday Stage performances is available online for November and December.

And direct from the North Pole, meet the jolly man himself. Santa Claus will be setting up at the museum for photo opportunities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on select weekends:

  • Saturday-Sunday, December 5-6
  • Saturday-Sunday, December 12-13
  • Saturday-Sunday, December 19-20

SHOP: Holiday Shoppe

The museum's Holiday Shoppe is a great one-stop shopping destination for educational and fun gifts for everyone in your family. The shop's ornament collection is likely one of the best in the city, and features ornaments hailing from just about every corner of the world, making it easy to find that special collectible for your family tree.


The Details

The Museum is open every day, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Museum will offer extended hours until 5:30 p.m. on the following days this holiday season: November 21, 22, 27–29; December 5-6, 12-13, 19–23, 26–30; and January 2-3. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light are included in Museum Entry, as are all performances. An additional ticket is required for Robot Revolution. Visit for details and to purchase tickets.

Museum of Science and Industry  

Photos: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry