An October 2003 trip
to Chicago by wildhoney269
Quote: Chicago, Illinois has some of the finest museum of the world. The temporary exhibits on display during the fall of 2003 have something for everyone.
Attraction | "Good Grief!"
The Good Grief! Exhibit running at the Chicago Children's Museum September 20 - November 30, 2003 celebrates the late Charles M. Schulz. His comic strip, PEANUTS, is brought to life and invites children to step inside the Peanuts world. The exhibit is both highly interactive and very funny.
When you first step into the exhibit you come upon a life-size version of Snoopy's dog house. He is lying on top while Charlie Brown is crawling out of the house from down below. Next to that is the WWI Flying Ace's plane and children are encouraged to strap on some goggles and fly like Snoopy did for all those years, through his imagination.
Peanuts is a classic comic strip reflecting American history and culture. Browse through decades of comics while looking back onto our own history and you begin to understand the true genius of Charles M. Schulz. There is a section of the exhibit where visitors are able to pick up a paper and pencil and set it down atop a lit up table to trace a variety of Peanuts characters. In the same room you can see the Peanuts cartoons translated into various languages and become introduced to how the comic was distributed throughout the world.
Kids can walk amongst life-size statues of the Peanuts gang all dressed up and playing a game of baseball. There is a piano that plays beautiful music with any key the child presses. Lucy's "the doctor is in" booth is set up with interesting topics to discuss with your children such as prejudice and peer pressure. The kids can even help build Woodstock's nest. All this is in addition to watching various cartoons of the cute characters and all their trial and tribulations.
As if the exhibit isn't entertaining enough, Snoopy, everyone's favorite beagle, appears at the Chicago Children's Museum every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11am, noon and 1pm through the length of the exhibit.
From Charlie Brown's baseball woes, Lucy's Psychiatry Booth and the WWI Flying Ace's plane to a gallery of classic comic strips reflecting American history and culture through the decades, this exhibit allows kids to build language and problem-solving-skills and families to see themselves in a whole new way.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 2, 2003
Chicago Children's Museum
700 East Grand Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Attraction | "Reflections of the Soul:Day of the Dead Exhibition"
About ten extravagant and colorful alters make up the exhibit. Various artists, poets and singers are celebrated. Celia Cruz, a famous Mexican singer, is honored with various pictures of herself set in front of an altar which appears as a stage. The singer's shadow appears behind a spotlight on closed white curtains. Items used in the person's every day life as well as food are usually part of the altar.
On of the most touching alters was one dedicated by a grandson to his grandfather. The man was not famous by any means and was a farmer his entire life. The artist wrote about riding in his grandfather's saddle when he was a small boy. The grandfather led a simple life and died in the same house he was born in. The fact that the altars are so colorful lead some to believe that the Mexican's are making light of death. But each and every item selected to be part of the alter has significance. I could really feel the love and respect that the grandson has for his grandfather.
In addition to alters, various pieces of artwork are also on display. Paintings hand on the walls depicting Day of the Dead celebrations and even some Mexican gods. A wonderful piece made by Oscar Armando Rodriguez Barreto of paper mache, wood, wax and chaquira beads shows two colorful skeleton heads which pop-out 3D from the picture mounted on the walls. There are also traditional skeleton figures made out of clay or paper mache dressed up and looking ready for a party.
The museum's display of the humorous and spiritual views of death is the largest one of its kind in the country and serves as an excellent introduction to this ancient Mexican holiday.
To get there take the Blue Line 'L' train to the 18th Street stop.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 2, 2003
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 West 19th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60508
Attraction | "Discovering Chimpanzees: The World of Jane Goodall"
Enter the exhibit, step into the African jungle, and explore the world of chimpanzees through Jane Goodall's eyes. At the Observation Station visitors are asked to watch a movie clip of chimpanzees and take notes on their behavior. Watch a male chimp aggressively run through the forest grabbing branches and throwing rocks or another chimp fishing for ants with a stick he uses for a tool. All these behaviors are explained in detail easy for children to follow.
Around the corner step into a tent similar to the one Jane lived in for several years at the base camp set up while conducting her research. Here you can watch videos and learn about her daily camp life and her first interactions with the chimpanzees.
Then, wander through the treetops to experience the world of chimpanzees yourself. Dynamic activities make you feel as though you are one of the animals. Walk down a path with a pair of chimp arms so you can see what it is like to walk like a chimp. Did you know that chimpanzees have nests? Kids can climb and explore a treetop nest of a chimpanzee and see what it's like.
Several kiosks are set up with all sorts of interactive ideas. One of the most unique is a kiosk where you can see if you can imitate chimp calls. Choose from a variety of chimp situations and watch the various calls a chimp can make. Then you can record yourself trying to imitate the calls and see how good you did. I was a bit intimidated making chimp noises but there was no one around when I tried it. A little child about 5 years old barged in front of me to record himself. I tried to show him how but apparently he already knew and he hit the record button and started hooting and hollering away. If was very funny. He liked it so much he kept running around the entire exhibit pretending to be a chimp. Even when he fell down he kept making the noises and continued on all fours.
There is also a scale where you can weigh yourself. Instead of seeing pounds, you find out which primate your weigh compares to such as a grown up gorillas, a gibbon or a baby orangutan. There is also a place where you compare your strength to that of a wild chimpanzee or other primate the squeezing with one hand as hard as you can. You find out which primate you are as strong as. Boy, those guys are strong! None of us came close.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 North Cannon Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60614
+1 773 755 5100
Attraction | "Leaving for the Country:George Bellows, Woodstock"
I had never heard about George Bellows before, but the exhibit attracted me because the works highlighted were painted in Woodstock, New York in the early 1920s. I have not been to Woodstock, New York, but I know it is in the country and I assumed the paintings would be interesting. Better known for his urban scenes, this is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on Bellows's years in Woodstock, a period of growth that significantly changed his style. During these years, Bellows produced some of his best work, including Elinor, Jean and Anna, a painting of his mother, aunt, and daughter, considered by some to be an American masterpiece.
While living in Woodstock, Bellows sometimes traveled to New York City to paint scenes from the boxing matches of the day. One of these famous paintings, A Stag at Sharkey's, is included in the exhibit.
Bellows lived in Woodstock, New York during the summers of 1920 through 1924. During that time, Woodstock became a community filled with artists. Most of Bellows's paintings were of landscapes of the area, or portraits of family or friends. He was inspired by the mountains, lakes, and fields in Woodstock.
As such an artistic community, Woodstock held several festivals each year. Bellows loved painting portraits of people dressed up in costumes. These festivals provided the perfect opportunity for people to create interesting outfits to dress up in. One painting contains a woman dressed up in a costume she had from the annual bohemian theatrical festival.
Works by his Woodstock contemporaries Henry Lee McFee, Eugene Speicher, Andrew Dasburg, and Bellows's former teacher Robert Henri are also represented in this exhibition. According to the literature provided by the museum, "Many of the works in this traveling exhibition are lent generously by institutions including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, and Yale University Art Gallery."
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 2, 2003
Terra Museum of American Art
664 North Michigan Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60611
+1 312 664 3939
Attraction | "Gallery of the Louvre"
When he was a young, Morse spent time in Paris to study paintings on display at the Louvre Museum. He also copied several of the works of art. His purpose of copying the paintings was to bring them to American as a means of educating the American people. Since he realized that most Americans could not travel to Paris to see the Louvre themselves, he decided to try and bring the museum to them. He did this by making a painting of one of the Louvre's galleries, the Salon Carre. Instead of painting the gallery as it appeared in real life, Morse invented his own special arrangement by selecting art works on display throughout the Louvre that he thought were the most important ones for Americans to know about. About forty famous paintings can be found in this single painting.
In order to create this piece of art, Morse went to the Louve over and over and painted replicas of many of the famous works on display there. He kept those replicas in his studio and used them when he painted their miniature versions as part of the Gallery of the Louvre. Can you imagine the time and effort involved in creating something like this?
In addition to being a painting of a collection of important art, there is also a story involved. Notice the people located throughout the gallery. It is thought that some of the many of the people in the painting are people Morse actually knew, including well-respected American artists and his own art students. Morse himself is even said to be in the painting. He is the figure in the center, leaning over to talk to a young woman as she draws.
Near a large urn in the left background, three people are engaged in a discussion. The young woman seated in front of her easel is Susan cooper, one of Morse's students and daughter of James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans and Morse's close friend. James Cooper and his wife Susan are the two other people in the discussion.
Standing by the threshold between the Salon Carre and the neighboring gallery is a woman in a traditional French country dress holding a little girl's hand. Nearby, a well-dressed man in a top hat in hand gazes at the wonders around him. These people serve to remind us that this is a public area in which visitors of all walks of life come together to experience art.
Attraction | "Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend"
This exhibition is on display during the 500th anniversary of her death. Elizabeth's career as Queen, the political workings of her court, and the cultural and diplomatic worlds of 16th-century England are all examined. According to the Newberry Library, the exhibition features beautiful and rare books, maps, manuscripts, and decorative objects from the Newberry's renowned Elizabethan collections, the British Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, libraries at the University of Kansas and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and distinguished private collections.
We were lucky enough to partake in a gallery walk, and the curator was very informative, explaining the history behind the documents. Several of the documents are difficult to read, since they are handwritten in Middle English. But it is interesting to see the handwriting of people you have learned about in history classes through the years. There are even several letters Elizabeth herself wrote, in perfect handwriting.
There is also some rare artwork on display as part of the exhibit. It ends up that a Chicago native has been collecting Elizabethan artworks and through an association with the Newberry Library, heard about the exhibit. He lent his pieces only to be on display here in Chicago.
Walking through the exhibit is like being suspended in time. I have been to several museum exhibits before, but this one is different. Its use of letters written by these fascinating people and the books they read or that were written about them in their time, instead of our modern time, is very unique. There are some letters written from Elizabeth to her sister Mary when Mary was Queen, and letters from James I (before he was king) to Queen Elizabeth asking about why she signed the death warrant of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth's reply is included as well. These pairings of letters let the visitor understand some of the games being played between these great powers.
Several programs on Queen Elizabeth I and in conjunction with the Newberry Libaray are offered throughout the length of the exhibit. A Shakespeare "original practices" production of Twelfth Night and a modern version of the Henry VI trilogy, Rose Rage, are scheduled. Other programs range for a talk about the Queen's many suitors, movie nights, and performances of Tudor music.
This exhibit is free. No photographs are allowed inside the exhibit. A few postcards and a book have been especially created for this exhibit and are for sale in the Newberry Library gift shop.
60 West Walton St
Chicago, Illinois 60610
+1 312 943 9090
Attraction | "Intimate Encounters: Paul Gauguin, South Pacific"
On April 1, 1891, Gauguin left France to "seek exile and renewal" in Tahiti. He soon discovered that the island had become very French and was not the unspoiled paradise that he had expected. He blamed Christian missionaries and the colonial administration for destroying native culture, but stayed for two years.
Intimate Encounters exhibits some woodcuts, monotypes, drawings, watercolors, lithographs, and sketches from this time. Gauguin's monotype technique involved "offsetting watercolor or gouache designs on paper. Placing a piece of dampened paper over the original design, the artist exerted pressure with an implement such as the back of a spoon. Since the moisture in the paper partially dissolved the water-based medium, the original design would thus be transferred in reverse onto the paper."
Gauguin returned to France with many paintings and an idea for a book (eventually published as Noa-Noa) that would describe his artistic enlightenment after being put in contact with the "primitives" who lived in Tahiti. Gauguin exhibited his Tahitian paintings in fall of 1893, but the show failed.
Gauguin returned to Tahiti in July of 1895. Three years later, he began to make woodcuts. There are six of these woodcuts in Intimate Encounters. At this time, he also work with new methods based on the carbon-paper principle which yield interesting prints. As explained on the signs next to the artworks, he applied a coat of ink to one sheet of paper, placed a second over it, and drew on the top sheet with pencil or crayon.
No photographs of this special exhibit are permitted. Unfortunately, there are not postcards or items from this exhibit for sale in the gift shop either.
Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Attraction | "The Photography of Lewis Carroll"
Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago from October 11, 2003 through January 11, 2004 and consists of over 75 vintage photographs. According to the Art Institute, these have been gathered from private, public, and corporate collections both here and abroad. There are also two kiosks with digital "albums" which allow the visitors to see the way his photographs were viewed, in an album. The kiosk is a touch screen and users can virtually turn the pages of his important albums.
Carroll practiced photography for 24 years. After the publication of the first Alice book in 1865, he had established financial security and freedom from academic responsibilities. Consequently, he was able to stop photographing people as a business. He began enhancing his creativity by creating scenes featuring children.
He really did a few neat things. The first wall of the exhibit displays portraits of a variety of children. He was hired by their families to take these pictures. Even these portraits are a bit unique. He posed them sitting on the couch or in a comfortable position in an oversized chair. They were never looking at him either. He captured them in a very natural way. He added objects for the children to hold such as dolls for the girls and guns or swords for the boys. One photo shows a folder holding his son on his knee and it appears he is handing his son a dueling pistol.
Later in the exhibit you find a wall full of photographed scenes. Children would dress up and be placed in scenes from popular songs or stories. One girl was dressed barefoot and in a torn dress and she posed as Cinderella. Another scene is of two sisters depicting the story of St. George and the dragon. Some songs and books of the day were also depicted.
No photographs of this special exhibit are permitted. Unfortunately, there are not postcards or items from this exhibit for sale in the gift shop either.
Attraction | "The Art of NASA's Aeronautical Research"
The curator's notes on the wall explained that all aircraft (and anything else that moves against wind such as trucks, cars, trains, etc.) are all tested in a wind tunnel to ensure that the design is geared for high performance. To test, they make a scaled-down version of the aircraft and run all sorts of tests on it. This exhibit is comprised of several of these models.
A wide variety of aircraft and space shuttles throughout the past 100 years are on display. The Wright brothers first took off in flight on December 17, 1903, and this exhibit commemorates that event. Even the Wright Brothers used a wind tunnel to test their plane before they attempted to take flight.
Objects included in the exhibition are from NASA and its predecessor, NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), which was founded in 1915. Created out of that agency at the beginning of the space race in 1958, NASA, according to the Art Instutite, "has a wealth of often un-exhibited and unpublished artifacts that not only document technological advances in flight over the past century but are also aesthetically striking."
Attraction | "Manet and the Sea"
Manet's seascapes, ranging from 1864 to shortly before his death in 1883, are a little-studied subject of the artist who sometimes is referred to as the father of Impressionism. The links between Manet and his immediate predecessors and contemporaries such as Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, James McNeill Whistler, Gustave Gourbet, Eugene Delacroix, and others are examined.
To truly understand the exhibit, I suggest you get the audio tour for $6. There are several walls of the exhibit that have paintings from three artists, such as Monet, Manet, and Whistler, all on the same subject. The audio tour explains which of these painters painted it first, how the other two painters were influenced, and the differences between their styles are identified.
One interesting fact about the subjects Manet chose for his paintings, was that he occasionally painted modern events. In 1864 he created a painting about an American Civil War naval battle that took place off the coast of France, The Battle of the U.S.S "Kearsarge" and the C.S.S. "Alabama". He used his imagination, since he was not present at the battle, to create the scene. Within one month from the event happening, and not even history yet, the painting was on display for people to see.
Towards the end of the exhibit is a large room with paintings only on one curved wall. On this wall are nine paintings of waves from various artists. Works from Renoir, Monet, Manet, and others are included. The exhibit is very large and takes about an hour to go through. We went on a Saturday morning at 10am when the general museum opened, and it was very crowded.
Several products related to the exhibition are available in the gift shop, including postcards, a Manet and the Sea exhibition catalogue, ornaments and an umbrella with one of the paintings, and much more.
Special Viewing Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday:10:30am-4:15pm
Saturday, Sunday: 9am-4:45pm
Closed: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
$5 for members and School of the Art Institute students
$6 for the public
Philadelphia Museum of Art
February 15-May 30, 2004
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
June 18-September 26, 2004
Attraction | "The Artful Teapot"
The Artful Teapot is split into four sections demonstrating how the everyday teapot can be transformed into a work of art. The teapot's basic components, the body, handle, lid, and spout, are interpreted in wildly imaginative variations. Expect to see teapots of animals, houses, scenes, dragons, and even Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.
In the "Aesthetic Variables" section, which you enter as the first part of the exhibit, the 20th century's most important artists, designers, and architects have been beguiled by the teapot. While some have focused on its shape and design, others have sought to increase its efficiency. Many teapots and tea sets are lavishly decorated with colorful glazes or constructed using novel and eccentric materials.
The teapot is artfully disguised in the "Illusion and Allusion" section. Teapots and tea services are fashioned to resemble famous people, imaginary characters, and a menagerie of creatures. One of my favorites is called Invisible Support by Sergei Isupov, which features a man's face with several other faces painted all over it, and the head is being supported by four feet from underneath.
The "Rendezvous with Ritual" section touches on the sociable ceremonies of tea-drinking. Once people started traveling, they began taking their teapots with them. This led to teapots in the shape of trains, planes, and automobiles, as well as practically designed teapots such as the "cube."
"Tea for Art's Sake" examines the artistic license of pieces where the teapot form is employed strictly for aesthetic potential. These teapots are not functional in any way. There is even one made entirely from rock salt.
With such a wide variety of unique and creative teapots, it is hard to pick out favorites! As we walked through the exhibit, each teapot invoked various emotions. Some were cute, some made me chuckle, while others left me scratching my head wondering what the artist was trying to convey. One I really liked is called I'm a Little Teapot and was created by Cheryl Frances. Picture a traditional sterling-silver teapot with a silver baby doll on the inside. Her arms and legs protrude out the front of the teapot, while her head pops out the top and the lid is her hat.
Most of the teapots are wide open and not in display cases. This allows visitors to get a good look at the teapot and materials used by the artist. There are "DO NOT TOUCH" signs posted everywhere. Also, photos are not allowed. If children are with you, pick up a family guide outside the door. There are activities for them like finding which teapot matches teapot parts printed and other games.
Mint Museum of Craft + Design
Charlotte, North Carolina
February 15-May 30, 2004
Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington St
Chicago, Illinois 60601
+1 312 744 6630
Attraction | "Eviction and Homecoming"
The photographs document the inspiring story of the of the Panara Indians who live in the rainforests of Brazil. The Panara had little contact with the industrialized world when they were approached by the Villas Boas brothers, two men hired by the Brazilian government in its efforts to clear the path for a Transamazonian highway. This contact with new people exposed them to their diseases and consequently, the Panara population dropeed to 50% in about three years. In 1973, the surviving members were relocated from the forests to a reservation, where they tried unsuccessfully to rebuild their way of life.
Two decades later, some of the Panara discovered that a portion of their original territory was not destroyed to develop the highway, and was still covered with forests. After a landmark court battle, the Panara were allowed to reclaim the rights to 1.2 million acres of their rainforest homeland. They returned to build a new village and begin again, while facing challenges of the newer generation who were not accustomed to the remote lifestyle.
The photographs of Pedro Martinelli tell the Panara story. In his black and white photographs, Martinelli captured the civilized world's first glimpse of the Panara (including pictures from that first meeting), their decimation from disease, the anguish of forced relocation, and the hope that came with the return to their beloved homeland. The writing next to each photograph is very thorough and explains the situation in detail.
The range of pictures involved is varied. The exhibit starts out with pictures of the workers clearing the forests for the highways. At this point, no contact with the Panara had been made. The men left clotheslines strung up with various gifts including food and other items. The Panara took the items, but no one ever saw them. The first time the men saw the Panara was from a plane flying over their village. The Panara shot arrows at the plane and you can see pictures of this event. The Panara were worried that they were found and moved away and burned their village to the ground.
There is also a film at the end of the exhibit which recaps the experience and contains interviews with some of the people involved.
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Attraction | "Polar Thaw: Global Warming in the Artic"
Gary Braasch is the nationally recognized photographer who documented the effects on the Earth's slowly increasing temperatures. The result of increased amounts of carbon dioxide and other heat traps gases in the atmosphere and causes global warming. The exhibition features over 30 beautiful images which demonstrate the impact of the climate change on the icy landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic. Their inhabitants, including polar bears, caribou, penguins, and humans are also photographed.
While we all know about the effects of global warming, they do not hit home too often because they affect places so far away. There are photos of fjords which have receded hundreds of feet from where they were only 30 years ago. We see the pictures of penguins that keep coming to the same nesting ground due to years of habit. These grounds are no longer good for their eggs and are covered with snow. The penguins lay their eggs in the snow anyway and the eggs never hatch.
You can expect to learn a few things as well. One interesting fact I learned was about some beetles that destroy trees. Since the weather is not as cold as it used to be, their larvae live longer and are not killed off by the cold. These larvae grow into beetles and have destroyed the trees in the region.
I love the pictures of the animals and land that are exhibited. Reading the captions, you wonder how many more years these environments will be around.
Attraction | "Einstein"
Einstein forever changed the way we look at the universe through his insight and creativity. He made us look at light, time, energy and gravity in a different way, making him the most famous scientist of the 20th century. What you forget is that he was not just a brilliant man, but a man with a generous imagination, because it was his imagination which helped him develop these theories.
In addition to understanding his theories, the exhibit also allows the visitor to learn more about Einstein the man. You'll see photographs, personal possessions, letters, multimedia displays and original manuscripts documenting his life. Included in the exhibit is the 1912 document in which Einstein first drafted his special theory of relativity and wrote the famous equation E=MC squared. You get to see the equation written in his own hand.
In addition to being a scientist, Einstein was also a humanitarian and anti-war activist. Born a Jew in Germany, Einstein lived in several countries before moving to the United States. Since he traveled constantly, he truly considered himself a citizen of the world. Einstein used his celebrity status to speak out on global issues including pacifism, racism, anti-Semitism, nuclear disarmament and more.
The letters, notebooks and manuscripts presented in this exhibition include his correspondence with political figures (like Franklin Delano Roosevelt about nuclear research), his diaries and his family letters to his wives.
I suggest purchasing the Curator's Audio Tour for an additional $5.00. The audio tour is narrated by the curator who happens to be an astrophysicst. When he first introduced himself I was concerned that it would be over my head, but he does an excellent job bringing complicated theories down to a layman's level. As you stop along the way to visit pieces of the exhibit, you hear extra information about his personal life and political relationships as well as scientific experts explain Einstein's theories.
The Field Museum also offers several public programs in conjunction with this exhibit. Explore the mysteries of black holes, Einstein's FBI file, and more through dynamic speaker events. The kids can have fun with Einstein's theories in hands-on family workshops.