J.B. Spector/The Museum of Science and Industry
Jollyball at the Museum of Science and Industry
My favorite exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry has nothing to do with science and precious little to do with industry. Jollyball, located just past the ticket collectors on the first floor, is a gigantic, self-starting pinball machine dedicated to promoting Swiss travel. After the ritual ka-chunk, a silver ball emerges from a hotel and starts to roll energetically about the tour-bus-sized contraption, doing things a silver ball might do if it were a tourist in Switzerland—riding ski lifts, passing an outsize fondue bowl, being magnetically integrated into a loudly ticking clock. When the hustle and bustle gets to be too much, it slips into a bar, sets off some whistles, and eventually pops out again, wobbling noticeably. The ball’s constant motion, not to mention its many modes of transportation, makes the exhibit fun for all ages—though now that I’ve seen it a few times, I usually take the opportunity to sit down for a few moments at a nearby table while my kid stares enraptured. Jollyball gets high marks for ingenuity and even higher ones for the surrogate parenting. 57th and Lake Shore Drive, 773-684-1414, msichicago.org. —Noah Berlatsky
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