The Museum of Broadcast Communications Chicago: A Treasure Vault of American Broadcast

The Museum of Broadcast Communications Chicago: A Treasure Vault of American Broadcast
Do you recognize these famous television doors?

The striking media tower made from recycled TVs can be seen from both inside and outside

The striking media tower made from recycled TVs can be seen from both inside and outside

Just shy of its one year anniversary, the $27 million new facility for the Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC) at 360 N. State St. is creating a buzz louder than a 17-year cicada or a double Wild Turkey bourbon.  The building, formerly an ugly beast of a parking garage since 1927, has been transformed by Eckenhoff Saunders Architects into a real beauty with a modernist sexy exterior that incorporates various broadcast metaphors and e.c. features (environmentally correct) into its structure.

Once inside, the-four story 62,000-square-foot monument to the ghosts of media past and the stars of media present, visitors are confronted with a mind-boggling array of collections that capture the important moments in broadcast history and life in America from the 1920's to the present. This is accomplished through more than 25,000 television programs, 5,000 radio programs, and 12,000 commercials along with artifacts and displays.

The Paley Center in NYC and LA, not withstanding, there is really nothing quite like the MBC anywhere in the world. Visitors will discover both the expected and the unexpected from I Love Lucy memorabilia, the Lucy collection and her hilarious shows; Tim Russert's chair from "Meet the Press"; Fibber McGee and Molly's, original closet (and contents) from the number one radio comedy show of the 1940' s; or they can pick a decade and watch the television shows that were popular in that era.

A  Smithsonian-like presentation of historic moments in broadcast history include: the Associated Press wire machine from November 22, 1963 announcing the assassination and death of President John F. Kennedy; footage, photos and the original camera used in the famous 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates held in Studio One at WBBM-TV Chicago; plus a special screening of a visibly shaken CBS anchor, Walter Cronkite as he reports on the 1968 assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. and much more.

Garfield Goose and friends.

Garfield Goose and friends.

Although the MBC chronicles broadcast from across America, those who grew up in Chicago are in for a special treat with local programming getting the full monty.   Bozo, Cooky and Wizzo come alive along with the famous Grand Prize Game buckets. Then there's Garfield Goose (with Romberg Rabbit and Macintosh Mouse) and Elmer the Elephant.

Mad Man, Don Draper would be blown away in the classical commercial area of the MBC where he could come face to face with the Marboro Man and other national advertising icons along with Chicago's very own.

Sixty years of television commercials from the 50's to the present feature memorable jingles and spokespeople. Step inside to meet or reacquaint yourself with "Little Timmy," Bob R-O-A-R-man, the Empire Carpet man, Jim Moran "The Courtesy Man" and that famous phone number, Hudson-three-two-seven-hundred.

The museum is not just about the past, its sophisticated up-to-the-minute technology features a television and radio studio that streams live, ISDN technology and touch-screen access to a wealth of information.

The MBC also offers visitors an opportunity to create their own DVD's where they can conduct interviews, anchor an ABC newscast on an authentic set, or make an audition video--all at a very reasonable cost.  Check the MBC website for upcoming appearances, programing and special events.

*And just in case you don't remember those famous doors pictured at the top of this post, they are from the Oprah Show.


Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Closed: Sundays, Mondays and all Federal Holidays


$12 Adult, $10 seniors (65 and up), members and children under 4 free. Special group rates. 360 N. State St. 312 245 8200.

About the MBC

The MBC is the brainchild of broadcast veteran, Bruce DuMont who is part of the family that created The DuMont Television Network.  DuMont has been involved with the museum since it first opened it's doors in June 1987 in the River City complex in the South Loop before moving to the Chicago Culture in June of 1992 and its current home in the summer of 2012.

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