Imperative to Click on Photo to see the details
When I recently visited Navy Pier to see the Chicago Flower and Garden Show 2005, I was delighted that a "bonus" to the long walk from the entrance to the exhibit hall (10-minute walk) was being able to see part of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.
It is located along the lower level terraces of Festival Hall. The hall exhibit of stained glass pieces extends from Entrance 1 to Entrance 2.
One of the really remarkable things about this special museum is that it is FREE! It is open daily during regular Navy Pier operating hours. Also, you can take a free tour with Museum curator, Rolf Achilles on Friday afternoons. You need to go to the west entrance of the Museum near Navy Pier's Entrance .
You are able to watch an informational video about the history and making of stained glass windows. Afterward, you are able, at your leisure, to see the windows. They are divided into categories:
Victorian, Art Nouveau, Tiffany, 1893 Chicago World's Fair, German-American Religious, Tiffany & Contemporaries, American Religious, Modern Religious, Contemporary, Synagogues, Lamps, Chicago Bungalow & Prairie, Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie, Richard Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass Windows.
It's worth a trip to Navy Pier just to see this grand public collection of stained glass, one of the best in the United States. More than half of the windows were originally installed somewhere in the Chicago area. It's interesting to see the influence of the European immigrants through the Religious windows. It's just as wonderful to see the secular windows as a history of decorative arts styles. What a fortunate free experience this turned out to be!
The IEEE really wowed us by booking the impressive Museum of Science & Industry for the very informal opening ceremonies on Monday evening! Just walking up to the pillars of its front entranceway into the Great Hall was amazing enough, let alone looking left or right toward the East (2nd photo) and West wings of this massive building. Completed in 1893 for the World's Fair celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the new world, it was later used as the Field Museum of Natural History until 1920 when those displays were moved to a new location closer to downtown. For a brief period it became the Palace of Fine Arts before being transformed into the new Museum of Science and Industry in stages between 1933 and 1940.
In our case, we were there just to mingle with each other as we wandered around admiring the exhibits in the Great Hall as well as the East Wing. The 3rd photo shows an impressive display in the Transportaion Gallery just off the Hall. Exhibits include the black steam engine at the left which set a new world speed record of 112.5 mph on May 9, 1893 as competing railway lines kept trying to have the fastest passenger train to entice all the expected European visitors arriving on the east coast before they departed overland for Chicago's World's Fair! Hanging above it is the pressurized metal gondola used in 1934 by Jean Piccard and his wife Dr. Jeannette Piccard to set a world altitude record when they piloted it to a height of 57,579 feet (17.5 km) above sea level. At centre is a diving German Stuka dive bomber from WWII with a British Spitfire on its tail while the sleek object on the floor at right is Craig Breedlove's jet-powered Spirit of America which set a new land speed record of 526 mph in 1964. Later in the day it lost its parachute brake and skidded on its tire brakes for 5-miles before crashing - establishing another record for the longest skid marks!!
There were various kinds of finger food counters set up throughout the Museum and several free bars in each area as we delegates wandered around taking in other sights such as the 'conestaga' type wagon that opened the American west (4th photo) - all as we were being seranaded by a live band in the great hall (5th photo)
After a while I strolled over to the East Wing where I was really impressed by this view of German submarine U-505, which operated in the North Atlantic for almost 2.5 years and sank 8 ships before being captured by the US Navy in June, 1944. With IEEE guests wandering around inspecting it at different levels, it made me realize that these craft were much larger (251-ft long) than I had realized. The end for U-505 came as a result of British intelligence breaking the German naval code, providing enough information for the US Navy to dispatch a small escort aircraft carrier and five destroyer-escorts to attempt to track her down. It took them a while, but they finally made contact off the West African coast and quickly launched a depth-charge attack which damaged her so severely that U-505 had to surface. A barrage of 40-mm and 20-mm cannon fire as well as strafing from an airplane off the carrier forced a quick surrender of the U-boat. The German crew (one of whom was killed in the encounter) were quickly picked up by the Americans as they abandoned her - not realizing that a 9-man American team was ready to quickly board the sinking U-boat. The boarding party managed to stabilize her condition and defuse demolition charges that had been set by the Germans. The various naval charts and codes captured by the US Navy later helped to further decipher messages sent out to the U-boat fleet. U-505 was towed to Bermuda where it was secretly kept for the remainder of the war (so the Germans would not realize it was in Allied hands) while the crew were sent to a POW camp in Louisiana. After the war, U-505 was saved from being used as a target for torpedoes when the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry acquired her from the US government in 1954.
The 2nd photo shows two glass-topped tables holding torpedoes while guests enjoy their snacks. The 3rd photo shows the front and side of the conning tower with various holes caused by the 40-mm and 20-mm cannons as well as 50-calibre machineguns during its brief battle. The 4th photo with people standing beside one of its tall rudders and well as a nearby propeller blade gives a better idea of the size of U-505. The 5th photo shows guests at the stern near stairs that allow visitors entering near the bow to exit once they have finished their internal tour of the submarine.
Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park in 1899. Having already visited his favorite bars in Havana, Paris and Madrid, I could not go to Chicago without visiting the house where he was born, so I was thrilled when Dave (dlandt) said he'd like to go with me. Hemingway was born in a nice Queen Anne house that belonged to his maternal grand-father, and he spent the first six years of his life there. The house now belongs to the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and thanks to some photographs, it has been restored to look the way it did back in the days when young Hemingway lived there. The tour focuses mostly on Hemingway's family, and I thought our tour guide did a great job of explaining how the writer's upbringing might have influenced his writings. His mother, who sang and played music, was quick to praise her son's first "books" (a collection of abstract drawings) and probably opened up his mind to arts and creativity. His father loved hunting and fishing, while his great-uncle Tyley Hancock, who often roomed with the Hemingways, was a well-traveled man; both men obviously had a great influence as well. I thought it was a very interesting tour for anyone interested in discovering who Hemingway - the man and the author - was.
Ernest Hemingway's birthplace home is located at 339 North Oak Park Avenue, in Oak Park. To get there, you can take the Metra train and get off at the Oak Park/Lake station. Tours last about 45 minutes and take you through all the rooms on the first and second floors of the house, including the one in which Hemingway was born. Tickets ($8) can be bought at the Ernest Hemingway Museum (see next tip) just a short walk down the street.
Last visit February 15, 2009
Located at the south end of Lincoln Park, the Chicago History Museum, formerly the Chicago Historical Society, is a great place to visit if you are interested in Chicago history. The whole museum was recently renovated and reopened in October 2006 with new galleries and reconfigured exhibits. The 2nd floor is where most of the museum is located, the permanent galleries cover many of the famous events in Chicago history-the Chicago Fire, the Columbian Exposition and Century of Progress, Fort Dearborn Massacre, Haymarket riots to name a few.
One of the most well known objects on display is the actual bed which President Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 along with other furnishings from the room in the Petersen boarding house in Washington DC where he died after being shot by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater.
There are a couple of galleries with changing displays, in February 2009 they were celebrating Lincoln's 200th birthday with a gallery on his life. Another features Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods, and another features part of their extensive fashion collection called Chic Chicago, featuring dresses that prominent Chicagoans wore throughout the last couple of centuries. We had a guided tour of that area and she said their collection was enormous, around 40,000 items, most of which are not on display.
Free admission on Mondays, regular admission $12 for adults. Open late on Thursday until 8 pm
Located in Lincoln Park at 1601 N. Clark (at North Avenue). CTA buses 11, 22, 36, 72, 73, 151, and 156 stop nearby or the Sedgwick station on the Brown line el and the Clark/Division station on the red line el are about 1/2 mile.
The Ernest Hemingway Foundation is based in Oak Park and its members are dedicated to understanding how the writer's origins might have had an impact on his life and work. The Ernest Hemingway Museum is mostly ran by volunteers and it presents a rather impressive collection of artifacts, ranging from Hemingway's high school report card to letters and manuscript pages of some of his prize-winning novels. The museum is designed to highlight different periods in Hemingway's life but there is so much to see that it turns out to be a bit of an organized chaos!
Tickets ($8) include admission to the museum and to Hemingway's birthplace home. Although they recommend visiting the museum first, I'd actually recommend doing it the other way around - that way, you get to learn about his family and early years first, and then you can move on to what he did later on in life. Ideally, I think you should allow about 3h to visit both the house and the museum. The Ernest Hemingway Museum is located at 200 North Oak Park Avenue, just a short (and safe!) walk away from the Metra Oak Park/Lake station.
If you have a bit of time to spare in the Oak Park area, you can go to Scoville Park, which is located across the street diagonally from the Hemingway museum. There you'll see a monument in honor of the citizens of Oak Park who served in either of the two World Wars, and you can spot Ernest Hemingway's name on there. Also, the house where Hemingway grew up from 1906 to 1920 is located just a few blocks away, at 600 North Kenilworth Avenue. It currently belongs to the Foundation but it is not open to the public yet - you can ask for directions at the museum.
This is at 18th and Indiana. The fee is $6 and they are open until five or six, When you walk into the lobby, you hear a tinkling sound above your head, which turns out to be dogtags with the names of those who died in Vietnam. It takes your breath away.
The Terra Museum of American Art was a Chicago secret it seems, surprising because of it's prime location at 664 N. Michigan Avenue next to Garrett's Popcorn and steps away from all the shopping. Admission was even free for the last year or so of it's existence.
But as of 11/1/04, the Terra is no more.
The Terra's collection included works by Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, and Georgia O'Keeffe, some of these will be going to the Art Institute in Chicago.
rmdw and I stopped by on it's 2nd to last day of existence and there was a terrific special exhibition going on called Chicago Modern. My husband would have really enjoyed it, ironic because the other two I dragged him to were not very good
11/22/04 follow up note: although the Terra is gone, it was announced that the Loyola University Museum of Art will be opening in October 2005 at 820 N. Michigan, a couple of blocks north of the Terra. LUMA will feature art that deals with spirituality and faith, the opening exhibit will be Caravaggio: the Impossible Collection
THE POLISH MUSEUM OF AMERICA is located at 984 North Milwaukee Ave, Chicago. There is a donation requested ($2). Numerous exhibits, cultural programs, lectures, concerts, etc. and a library with more than 60,000 volumes. Scholars come to research Polish history and culture..as it is one of the largest collections outside Poland. General information at: 3l2.384.3352.
Formerly The Mexican Fine Arts Museum it's reach is now national. The museum developed from a small project in the Pilsen/Little Village area of Chicago to a major cultural player in the region. It is the only Mexican/Latino museum accredited by the major museum organization. It serves both the artistic and cultural needs of the Mexican and other Latino constituencies in Chicago.
The National Museum of Mexican Art is the largest Latino cultural organization in the country, containing over 6,000 permanent objects, and is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums. The Museum is located at 1852 West 19th Street, Chicago, IL 60608 in the Pilsen neighborhood, adjacent to Little Village.
This is a "free" museum located in Harrison Park in the lower west side neighborhood of Pilsen. I'm not a huge art fan, but I rode my bike there once and was really impressed. This is a fairly large size art museum, including very vibrant and colorful paintings, photography, textiles, sculptures, prints, drawings, and folk art.
While in Pilsen, might as well drive through the neighborhoods and check out the largest selection of murals in Chicago on the sides of buildings, garages, and houses. The 85-90% latino's (mostly Mexican) in this neighborhood are one of the friendliest peoples in the city. I would also recommend taking a walk east on 18th street from the museum.
Take the pink line from the loop downtown to the Damen stop and walk about 1 block north (Damen) and 1 block east (19th St).
Housed in Washington Park, near Hyde Park and the Univerisity of Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African American History, open in 1961, was the first of its kind. Permanent exhibits include Black in Aviation, Africa Speaks, an exhibit about the charismatic Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor (1983-87), art exhibits and a way too small display on Chicago's first perminant settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian-French-Canadian trapper who has yet to have his due in city history.
Defintely an interesting place worth visiting, but the museum needs a better organization scheme, displays are a bit haphazard in spots. The museum is open 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 on Sunday. I'm not sure what admission is (around $5 I imagine) and the museum is free on Sunday.
The Loyola Museum of Art is a little known art museum right on the Magnificent Mile nestled in between the Park Hyatt and the Hershey store. I had an hour to kill before meeting up with a friend and decided to pop in to see two of their current special exhibits on the sculptures of Rodin and a Paris-Chicago photo exhibit which run through August 16, 2009. Both exhibits were interesting, the Rodin exhibit explained a lot about Rodin's life and showed how a bronze sculpture was created from start to finish.
It's a very small museum, the Rodin exhibit occupied two rooms and the photography exhibit three rooms, upstairs is their permanent collection which is mostly religious art. I didn't find the permanent collection interesting with the exception of a couple of pieces but I am not a religious art enthusiast. But I will certainly keep my eye open for further special exhibits.
Admission is currently a suggested $6
Located at 820 N. Michigan Avenue, just behind the Water Tower
Tuesday: 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (free admission)
Wednesday - Sunday: 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Free Guided Tours: noon and 2:00 p.m.
The architecture galleries are a modest doorway off the second floor balcony. Unless there is a big sign like this, it can be difficult to miss. The galleries are usually well worth your time -- this is an especially interesting exhibit as Chicago is known for the buildings that HAVE been built. This exhibit is a glimpse into what did NOT take place!
The University of Chicago was one of the first United States museums to sponsor digs in the Middle East (then considered part of "the Orient") and this relatively little-known museum has documents of that, as well as hosting its very fine collection of artifacts from the Middle East, including Egypt, Anatolia (today's Turkey), Persia (today's Iran), Mesopotamia, and Syria.
If this were downtown on the Museum Campus, it would doubtless be one of the most popular in Chicago, as its collection more than rivals the Field Museum's. As it is, it's reasonably accessible by public transportation, either Metra train or CTA. Street parking can be difficult during the school year but there's a parking garage not too far away.
Very important note: Make sure to call to confirm that the Institute is indeed open. They tend to close for special events without posting the information on their website or even their answering machine!