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Chicago media sh-t on Ken Griffin. F-cking philanthropist.

Exactly Neil. Where does that stuck-up POS get off giving $125 million to the Museum? No, thank you, sir. Take your money and your attitude and get the f-ck out of town you condescending bastard.

Oh, you have left town! Oh. never mind.

BTW, we are lucky to have journalists like Steinberg who tell it like it "is". I don't see why people constantly harp on Chicago's mainstream media for being "clueless"?

Sorry, Ken Griffin — Chicagoans will call the Museum of Science and Industry what they please

The Florida billionaire paid $125 million to get his name slapped on the Museum of Science and Industry. But will anybody use the new name? Just look at 875 N. Michigan. Don’t know what that is? Exactly.

By Neil Steinberg

May 16, 2024

Last year, the Oriental Institute, having tried getting by with the abbreviation “OI,” finally changed its name to the inclusive if wordy “Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, West Asia & North Africa.”

This Sunday, the Museum of Science & Industry, or MSI for short, officially changes its name to the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry.

One door opens, another closes.

“We are thrilled to announce our official new identity,” wrote Brianna Wellen, communications specialist at the — for a few hours yet — Museum of Science and Industry.

They can’t be too thrilled. The new name was bought for $125 million by Florida financier Kenneth C. Griffin back in 2019. I wish the five-year delay represented reluctance by the MSI brass to recast themselves in tribute to a right-wing greedhead who fled Illinois for the more welcoming political environment of Florida. But given the place’s responsiveness on non-naming matters, like bomb scares, it’s probably just characteristic foot-dragging. A newlywed announcing she’s taking her spouse’s name in five years would be suspected of lack of enthusiasm.

As to whether “Griffin” is the sort of slur that “Oriental” has become, well, that depends on your politics. To MAGA types who consider Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis bold for banning abortion and dragooning frightened immigrants into transcontinental political theater, the Griffin name might class up the joint and balance that scary, disreputable word “science.”

To me, “Griffin” echoes with the shriek of fear heard from Chicago expats who sit at keyboards in the Sunshine State and exult over each new strong-arm robbery in Uptown.

Though I’m not broken up by the name change. First, because the future KCGMSI has bigger problems. If you’ve ever visited a proper science museum, such as the Science Museum in London or the Exploratorium in San Francisco or the Ontario Science Center (all of which muddle forward without plutocrat branding), you realize just how far from the mark we fall here.

The new logo for the Museum of Science and Industry.

The new, longer name of the Museum of Science and Industry.Provided

The MSI is so crammed with legacy exhibits — the train diorama, the coal mine, the U-505 submarine, the Pioneer Zephyr and on and on — by the time they’re done dusting those, there isn’t energy left to mount anything significant.

I wish Griffin’s wad of cash were going to correct the museum’s deficits. But given the latest exhibit is about SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft, a pet project of Elon Musk, Ken Griffin’s soulmate in toxic right-wing nuttery, there’s no hope for that. The MSI is already in the pocket of its corporate sponsors, and that’ll only get worse. Nobody ever bought a bike and didn’t ride it. Expect shows like “Hobby Lobby: American Success Story” and “Technological Achievement in Hungary Under Viktor Orban.”

Take comfort. Chicagoans have a genius for ignoring name changes — they fiercely resisted calling the Sears Tower “Willis Tower” for so long that now the correct name sounds wrong, and “875 North Michigan” draws a puzzled stare, even though the Hancock Building was rebranded in 2018.

“Prefixing” is actually a verb — darn, I was hoping to invent a new term — meaning “to add something at the beginning.” The practice has been honed to a very specific brand of political timidity in Chicago. The sop of “Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive” was coined in 2021; the new name immediately truncated back to “Lake Shore Drive” in 99.9% of daily usage.

It is worth remembering how the Museum of Science and Industry began. Sears executive Julius Rosenwald pledged $3 million in 1926 — $51 million today. He deliberately didn’t affix his own name to it, in keeping with the Jewish notion of tzedakah, the belief that anonymous giving is the highest form of charity. Chicago Jews of previous generations celebrated that gift by calling the MSI “The Rosenwald.” A reminder that honor is earned, not bought.

The whole idea of grasping at immortality by naming stuff after yourself is a chump’s game anyway. How many residents of Cook County have the foggiest idea who Cook was? One in 10,000? Maybe. I only know because there is a plaque in City Hall commemorating Daniel Pope Cook — and even then it forgets to explain what he actually did: serve as Illinois’ first attorney general, for starters. Cook County was named for him in 1831, six years before Chicago was voted a city. Cook County is bigger, richer and more populous than Chicago, if far less considered. A reminder that true power goes about its business quietly. If Kenneth C. Griffin really wanted to propagate his name, he’d have done better to save his $125 million and invest in a well-placed bronze plaque.

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