MSI to rebrand as Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry — named after big donor who fled Chicago

Once the richest person in Illinois, Ken Griffin pulled out in 2022, months after complaining about the city’s crime, saying “there is nowhere, where you can feel safe.”

The Museum of Science and Industry is now the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry, named after the billionaire CEO of Citadel, pictured, in recognition of his $125 million donation.
The Museum of Science and Industry is now the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry, named after the billionaire CEO of Citadel, pictured, in recognition of his $125 million donation. Pat Nabong / Chicago Sun-Times
The Museum of Science and Industry is now the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry, named after the billionaire CEO of Citadel, pictured, in recognition of his $125 million donation.
The Museum of Science and Industry is now the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry, named after the billionaire CEO of Citadel, pictured, in recognition of his $125 million donation. Pat Nabong / Chicago Sun-Times

MSI to rebrand as Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry — named after big donor who fled Chicago

Once the richest person in Illinois, Ken Griffin pulled out in 2022, months after complaining about the city’s crime, saying “there is nowhere, where you can feel safe.”

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Five years after receiving the largest gift in its history, the Museum of Science and Industry is officially changing its name to spotlight the former Chicagoan who gave that gift before leaving the city he said had become so violent it was “like Afghanistan, on a good day.”

The Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry rebranding is in recognition of the $125 million gift from the founder and CEO of Citadel.

Once the richest person in the state, Ken Griffin pulled out of Illinois in 2022, months after complaining about Chicago’s crime, saying “there is nowhere where you can feel safe.”

But Tuesday, Griffin was focusing on the museum and the gift he gave in 2019.

“I am proud to support MSI in its mission to inspire the inventive genius in everyone,” Griffin said in a news release.

The donation went toward building the Griffin Studio, an immersive digital gallery with its exhibit Notes to Neurons, which explores music and emotions.

The money also helped renovate the museum’s Henry Crown Space Center, which features a new exhibit called the SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft, a flight-proven vehicle that played a key role in two missions to the International Space Station.

The museum will offer free admission Sunday for the rebranding and reveal of the Griffin Studio. Tickets must be reserved for the special event.

“This gift helps us create exhibits of the future geared toward the next generation of scientists and leaders,” Chevy Humphrey, president and CEO of the Griffin MSI, said in a release.

Griffin founded the Citadel hedge fund in Chicago in 1990. It became one of the most successful alternative investment vehicles for wealthy people and institutions.

Today, Griffin is worth an estimated $37.1 billion, according to Forbes.

The billionaire announced in 2022 that he was moving his family and companies to Miami, one of several departures by wealthy, philanthropic Chicagoans in recent years, citing safety concerns.

Before he left Chicago, the spotlight was long on Griffin’s philanthropy and political donations — and the controversies they generated. The official cutting of ties with Chicago came after months of suggesting he would relocate if the city didn’t “change its course.”

“It’s becoming ever more difficult to have this as our global headquarters, a city which has so much violence,” Griffin said during a discussion at the Economic Club of Chicago in 2021. “I mean Chicago is like Afghanistan, on a good day, and that’s a problem.”

In that conversation, Griffin said he personally saw “25 bullet shots in the glass window of the retail space” in the building where he lives, adding that someone “tried to carjack the security detail” that sat outside his house.

“It just tells you like, how deep crime runs in this city,” Griffin said at the time. “There is nowhere where you can feel safe today walking home at 9:30 at night and you worry about your kids coming to and from school.

“That’s no way for our city to exist,” Griffin said.

Crime in Chicago has declined since Griffin moved.

After spiking during the pandemic, shootings and homicides dropped significantly over the past two years, according to Chicago police data. The downward trend has continued ahead of the historically violent summer months, with shootings and homicides respectively falling 8% and 14% so far this year.

Overall crime has plummeted 12%, data shows. Robberies and motor vehicle thefts — crimes that helped drive an overall increase last year — are flat and down 24% this year.

Contributing: Tom Schuba