Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

“My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”, Isaac Asimov once said about the cult of ignorance persistent in the United States.

Proclaiming that the Earth is flat is an exercise of free speech right granted by the First Amendment. It is all about freedom and democracy. And if you say that the Earth is round it changes nothing. It’s just your opinion.

Here is an opinion: freedom and democracy are not about your rights, it’s about your responsibilities.

You may say that ignorance is the absence of knowledge. But in the current age of information ignorance is a choice. The Internet makes knowledge free and easily accessible. Ignorance is a conscious refusal to acquire knowledge and instead trust your gut or common sense.

“And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”

Citing the verse from King Henry IV by William Shakespeare was a man standing on stone stairs in front of the building which later became the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It was 1926. The man’s name was Julius Rosenwald.

Julius Rosenwald was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the owner of Sears, Roebuck and Company which was the of that time. While he was really good at making money he was even better in spending it to advance education and knowledge.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago was one of his projects.

Originally it was built as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. After the World’s Fair was in use but eventually it was left abandoned.

Julius Rosenwald fought to establish a museum of science, led the public movement and single-handedly funded $5 million of his own money to restore the building. The museum opened in 1933, a year after his death. It became the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere.

While Julius Rosenwald never possessed the assets of his contemporaries Rockefeller and Carnegie (in current dollars Rosenwald’s total donations amounted to something under $2 billion) his philanthropy was never about vanity. It was about the power of knowledge.