U-505 Submarine and Submarine Tour - Museum of Science and Industry

The U-505, a submarine captured from the Germans during WWII, is the single best exhibit at MSI, and possibly the most impressive in all of Chicago.

Viewing the submarine from the outside is free (and still extraordinary). If you want to go on the tour that goes inside, it’s $18 for adults and $14 for kids. The tour is great, but it’s intense and best for upper elementary and above: dark, loud, and with frank description of war and life on a submarine. Strollers and wheelchairs cannot be used on the tour (and it has limited accessibility in general).

The leadup to the submarine focuses on how it was captured. It is a little loud and intense, so the More Information section tells you how to skip it entirely if you want. Once you’re inside the room with the submarine, and especially down at the lowest level, the information turns to the science technology of submarines (buoyancy, periscopes, torpedoes, etc) as well as what life was like onboard, showing what the kitchen and bunks looked like.

The U-505 building has its own bathrooms. From the bottom level of the submarine room, walk towards the exit; the bathrooms will be on your right as you leave the submarine room.


The walk to get to the submarine focuses primarily on how it was captured, which includes life-sized scenes and videos dramatizing the action. I just walk through them with younger kids but many older kids will enjoy this section. If your child may be bothered by the loud sound effects or intense music, there’s an unmarked way to skip it entirely: inside the exhibit, take the elevator rather than the stairs. Instead of going to level S1 (labeled U-505 submarine), choose S2 (labeled restrooms). That will take you to the exit from the exhibit, but you can go back into it, having skipped the intense introduction.

If you’ve seen Imitation Game or are familiar with the enigma machine, which the Germans used to send encrypted messages, don’t miss the enigma on display on the bottom level of the submarine room.

Another item not to miss is the video just outside the bathrooms which shows how the U-505 made its way to the Museum of Science and Industry, and how it was put into its current home in 2004.