A Mold-A-Rama™ exhibit opened at the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) on Thursday, November 3, A.D. 2022. As I mentioned in an article in September (on my other, more scholarly blog) that concerned the M.S.I. auctioning off items from the Circus exhibit and Zeph the animatronic burro from All Aboard the Silver Streak (the old Burlington Zephyr exhibit) the Mold-A-Rama™ exhibit occupies the space formerly occupied by the Circus in the East Gallery on the Lower Level of the M.S.I. Update: The M.S.I. has revealed the name of the exhibit: Mold-A-Rama™: Molded for the Future. This is a temporary exhibit, which seems to be named Mold-A-Rama™ based on the latest M.S.I. map, and will be open for approximately a year, through the autumn of 2023.
In a press release, the M.S.I. stated, “The exhibit features a collection of popular, rare and experimental Mold-A-Rama souvenirs from the past with their quirky colors, designs and, of course, the smell.” A spokeswoman referred to the “signature smell.”
The M.S.I. added, “Guests can expand their collection by taking home their own colorful souvenirs from over eight machines featured in the exhibit and around the Museum. Featured molds for creation are the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair Monorail, one of the first molds ever created, and the MSI Robot, featured during the Robot Revolution exhibition.”
A Mold-A-Rama™ vending machine uses an injection molding process to manufacture small, hollow waxy plastic sculptures on-demand that children use as toys and adults keep as souvenirs. In 2017, I wrote a comprehensive history of Mold-A-Rama™ machines and the two companies to bear the name Mold-A-Rama, Inc., along with an explanation of how the machines work, and identified all the organizations I could document operating Mold-A-Rama™ machines at that time. I wrote an updated article in 2018. For this blog, I wrote a new article called “Mold-A-Rama Madness” that combines information and pictures from those articles with new material and a revised introduction.
Figure 1 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: These are Mold-A-Rama™ sculptures are a gray jetfighter, a black steam locomotive, a red Chicago skyline, a dark gray U-505 submarine, and a green tractor.
Figure 2 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is a different assembly of the Mold-A-Rama™ sculptures as in the picture above – the gray jetfighter, a black steam locomotive, a red Chicago skyline, a dark gray U-505 submarine, and a green tractor – that gives a sense of depth. Mold-A-Rama™ sculptures are three-dimensional objects that belong on a shelf.
Figure 3 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry This is a green tractor that the Mold-A-Rama™ machine in the Farm Tech exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry produces most of the year. Farm Tech is on the Lower Level (ground floor) in the Museum of Science and Industry’s Central Pavilion.
Figure 4 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This red Mold-A-Rama™ Chicago skyline sculpture is made by a Mold-A-Rama™ machine at the Museum of Science and Industry, but I do not know in which exhibit the relevant machine is located.
Figure 5 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This black steam locomotive Mold-A-Rama™ sculpture is made in a Mold-A-Rama™ machine in the Transportation Gallery near the 999 Steam Locomotive, on the Main Level in the Museum of Science and Industry’s Central Pavilion.
Figure 6 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the Mold-A-Rama™ machine that produces Mold-A-Rama™ replicas of the 999 Steam Locomotive.
Figure 7 Credit: Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the 999 Empire State Express steam locomotive in the Museum of Science and Industry’s Transportation Gallery. Hanging overheard, we see the Piccard Balloon Gondola and parts of the Supermarine Mark 1A Spitfire and Junkers JU-87R-2 Tropical Stuka.
Figure 8 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This Mold-A-Rama™ sculpture is a gray jetfighter. The Mold-A-Rama™ machine that produces it is in the Transportation Gallery, on the Balcony in the Museum of Science and Industry’s Central Pavilion.
Figure 9 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This Mold-A-Rama™ sculpture is a dark gray replica of the U-505 submarine. The real U-505 is a German Navy attack submarine, a U.S. Navy war prize, and a museum ship.
Figure 10 Credit: Heid Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is the Mold-A-Rama™ machine that produces Mold-A-Rama™ replicas of the U-505. It is in the U-505 exhibit gallery.
Figure 11 Credit: J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: Between 1954 and 2004, the U-505 was on display behind the Museum of Science and Industry’s East Pavilion. Since 2004, the U-505 has been on display in a 35,000 square-foot exhibit hall under the north lawn of the Museum of Science and Industry. Mr. Spector took this picture on August 2, A.D. 2007.
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Museum Entry (general admission) tickets are $21.95 for adults and $12.95 for children (three-to-eleven), and free for Museum Members. This covers the Mold-A-Rama™ exhibit and most permanent exhibits, including the Zephyr, Science Storms, You! The Experience, the Ships Gallery, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, The Great Train Story, Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze, and walking around (but not through) the U-505.
Museum Entry also covers Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, which will open in a few weeks, on Wednesday, November 16, A.D. 2022. This will be the 80th Christmas Around the World festival, as the first was held in 1942.
Tickets for Giant Dome Theater movies are $12 for adults and $9 for children, and free or discounted for Members. The same is true for Coal MineTours, Fab Lab workshops, and Dissect an Eye workshops in the Education Lab. For the U-505 On-Board Tour, tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for children, $17 for Adult Members, and $13 for Child Members.
The traveling exhibit of artworks comprised of LEGO bricks, The Art of the Brick, has been extended by popular demand through January 16, A.D. 2023. Tickets for this traveling exhibit are $14 for adults, $11 for children, and $7 for Members.
The Museum of Science and Industry is sometimes stylized as the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago and as the Museum of Science + Industry, Chicago. One of the Museums in the Park, it is situated in the northeast corner of the Chicago Park District’s Jackson Park in East Hyde Park, a neighborhood along the shoreline in the Hyde Park Community Area on the South Side of Chicago. The Museum of Science and Industry is housed in the Palace of Fine Arts, the last pavilion left standing in Jackson Park from Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893).
It sits at the southwest corner of 57th Drive and DuSable Lake Shore Drive. [In 2020, the Chicago City Council voted to tack DuSable in front of Lake Shore Drive.] One southbound lane of DuSable Lake Shore Drive is closed from 57th Drive to Hayes Drive due to roadway work related to the construction of the Obama Presidential Center.
The address is 5700 South DuSable Lake Shore Drive. The phone number is (773) 684-1414. The Website is https://www.msichicago.org/.
The M.S.I. is open most days from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but it is open later during summertime and Christmastime, and other busy periods. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day/the First Day of Christmas.
 The reason I wrote “most of the year” is because I recall at least one year that Mold-A-Rama™ machine in the Farm exhibit (now called Farm Tech) was re-purposed to produce Santa Claus figures during Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.
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