Swiss Jolly Ball

| January 29, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Elizabeth Shapiro

My son and I love the Museum of Science and Industry. This often overlooked Chicago icon is home to our favorite kid space, which we recently shared here Idea Factory.  Recently, my two year old has become addicted to a (relatively) small display, tucked behind the second floor escalators: The Swiss Jolly Ball.

Once dubbed the “largest pinball machine”, this ode to all things Swiss stands at 7 feet high and 15 feet wide. Built in the 1980’s, the MSI’s Swiss Jolly Ball is one of only two in the world, created by Englishman Charles Morgan from scraps while living in Switzerland. The heavy silver ball travels through field of smiling cows, up gondolas to the alps, around a fondue pot, near a quartz watch maker and even hitches a ride on a boat touring a Swiss lake. Its journey takes several minutes, and is not a high tech marvel of flashing strobes and sirens; a small rock counterbalances a train track, and the sound that accompanies the ball’s entrance into a “Swiss bank”rises from coins tumbling around a metal container. That said, the Swiss Jolly ball captivated my son (okay… and my) attention more than anything else at the museum. We stood, transfixed, through several “shows” and were only dragged away by nap time’s approach.

Luckily, Timeless Toys in Lincoln Square carries an array of Quadrilla toys, recently at a 20% discount. For free, check out their display model– this marble run doesn’t have the bells and whistles that the MSI’s Swiss Jolly Ball (literally) has, but its multiple tracks, helixes and colorful blocks translate into an unlimited number of possible marble trajectories and days of family fun for Jolly Ball fans.

This is an Original Chicagonista.com article.


Elizabeth Shapiro loves exploring her adoptive city with her two-year-old in tow when she isn’t organizing the Chicago Stay at Home Moms meetup group or cheering

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Category: See & Plays

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