Monday, April 19, 2010

A Day at the Museum

Today I’m heading to the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)  to see the Smart House: Green + Wired exhibit.

I have been more times than I can count over the years (most people from Chicago and Northwest Indiana can say the same thing) and have a particular fondness for the train exhibit. I even spent a summer learning how to make hot dogs with a cardboard box, some tin foil and a hanger. Ticket cost has never been a consideration, so when the exhibit re-opened last month and I saw that I would be paying $25 to get in I was like "Wow!” For a family, I imagined this could add up.

So this is where my soror (Zeta Phi Beta Sorority) comes in. She started volunteering at MSI in February and gave me the heads up on Free Days. This is admission to the museum on certain days. You still have to pay for the special exhibits like the Smart House. I'll show you the how it adds up in a minute. So I'm like hmm... "Who else does this?” I found a website Museum Free Days, which lists not just Free Days in Chicago, but in major cities across the country. You can also check the websites of individual museums as well.

Here's how I'm doing it...
The general admission to the MSI for adults is $15.00 (if you are a Chicago resident it's discounted to $13). Adult admission to the Smart House is $11.10 per person (Tickets are purchased on line to secure your reservation and there is a processing fee). Total cost on a non-free day is $25.10 (or $24.10 for me).

If you live in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, etc., you know the cost to park can be pricey. Parking at MSI is $16.00 per day (which isn't to bad considering I have paid $30 downtown) but I can use public transportation for $4.50 round trip. I could also ride my bike (just over 6 miles) which would only cost me pedal power but I have a meeting after and the "bike cologne" might not appeal. :-)

End result...
I'm saving $13 general admission by taking advantage of the Free Day. Another $11.50 gets added to the kitty by using public transportation instead of parking Honey Bunny (my SUV). Total savings $24.50. I'm saving on gas as well but I think calculating that is tipping me over to the cheap side.

Why go?
Museums even at full admission are a great way to spend the day. If you visit everything, it probably works out to pennies per exhibits. As my soror mentioned in a previous post, volunteering is another way to keep dollars in your pocket because the admission and parking can be included plus you may get a discount at the gift shop (This is how it works for her).

The Smart House is for the environmentally conscious or wannabe's (like me), a great look at sustainable living. Earth Day is April 20th!

  • The Museum of Science Industry free days for April are the 19th through the 23rd, in honor of Earth Week.
  • Transit Chicago is a great resource for getting around Chicago by bus or train. If you have a web-enabled smartphone, you can download GoogleMaps to get bus routes and schedules on the fly.
  • If you are feeling adventurous, you can visit the Chicago Bike Shop database to learn about renting bicycles to tour the city.