Fairy castle's renovation becomes an exhibit

2014-02-06T00:00:00Z 2014-02-13T19:00:17Z Fairy castle's renovation becomes an exhibitEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Colleen Moore's iconic fairy tale castle at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry is in the midst of a makeover.

While the castle and all its fixtures, furniture and other trinkets housed within are being refurbished, visitors to the museum can enjoy a special exhibit revolving around this conservation project and actually watch while it's being given a facelift.

"Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle Conservation Project" continues through Feb. 17 at the Museum of Science and Industry.

"It's a good opportunity to take something very familiar to guests and let them see it in a whole new way," said Kathleen McCarthy, director of collections for the Museum of Science and Industry. McCarthy said the castle was closed in late October so conservationists could give it a facelift.

"It took about a week to take the castle apart and then we opened it (the conservation exhibit) to the public," she said. Active conservation work on the structure began in mid-November.

The castle, featuring fascinating miniature items and artifacts, dates to 1935 and was the brainchild of silent film star Colleen Moore.

"The fairy castle was actually designed to travel," McCarthy said. "When Colleen Moore built it, she toured it across the country."

Viewers of the castle paid a small fee - 20 cents for adults and 10 cents for kids - and proceeds went to children's medical charities. The castle, which is close to 9-feet tall, was permanently housed at the museum in 1949.

McCarthy said the majority of the work being done on the structure is due to damage done by its electrical and plumbing systems. Water actually ran through the castle's fountains.

"We're switching out (much of) the electronics and updating with fiber optics. It'll be modern behind the scenes but will be restored to its former glory," she said.

The plumbing system will remain in the castle to keep the historical integrity of the structure, she said. But they're replacing the water with cast acrylics.

Museum guests exploring the conservation exhibit can get an up close view of the miniature artifacts which are now displayed in separate cases. From tiny books to small paintings, vases, tapestries and other items, there's much to explore.

"We're happy to provide guests the opportunity to see this in a whole new way, to see how it was created and see the rooms come together like a puzzle," she said.

FYI: Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle Conservation Project continues to Feb. 17 at the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Visit msichicago.org.Throughout February, kids can visit the museum free. Free Kids Museum Entry tickets must be obtained on-site and cannot be acquired online.

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