We’d decided to spend our last full day in the city at the Field Museum. Our friend and palaentologist Ilja had recommended it to us when he heard we were going to be in Chicago and we agreed, it looked pretty good. So, after another hearty breakfast at the Tempo Cafe, we made our way to Michigan Avenue and waited for the bus.
It was another sea-rokey day and there was a chilly breeze coming from the lake. So, we were glad when the bus came and we could ride the length of the city centre and view all our favourite places from the comfort of a seat!
We were surprised to see Sting’s show about the closure of the shipyards premiering in Chicago, before it moves to Broadway. Why not in North East England, I wonder?
Anyway, we were soon at the Field Museum on the South Lake Shore. Quite a few school buses were arriving too and groups of school aged children on holiday programs were being shown into some of the exhibits, so the museum was rather busy.
We decide to start with the soil exhibit.
Underground Adventure presents a great deal of information about the soil beneath our feet and the creatures which inhabit it.
Strangely, we had the exhibit almost to ourselves, even though, of all the exhibitions in the museum, this one seemed particularly suitable for school aged children. Never mind, we managed quite nicely too.
The conceit is that we had been shrunk to a hundredth of our normal size, so we wandered through roots and rhizomes. It was quite interesting but a bit static and suffered a little in comparision to Disney shows such as “A Bug’s Life”.
As much as I enjoy learning from the exhibits, I also enjoy looking at the graphic design of the information presentation. I rather liked this tin-can picture depicting the importance of soil maintenance and liked all the little rivets and sharp edges.
Best of all, and totally wasted on the children viewing this thing, was Elvis driving the truck! Isn’t it good to know that someone had a sense of humour?
From there, we decided to move on to one of the special exhibitions which had attracted our interest this morning. The 1893 World’s Fair had taken place in this area of the city and unbeknown to us until now, the Fair had provided the initial impetus for the founding of the museum itself.
This ledger recorded all the items displayed and the money spent because, right from the start there was the idea that someday, when the fair was over, many of the exhibits might be displayed in a museum. We hadn’t known this background, didn’t really know much about the World’s Fair either, but really enjoyed imagining how it would be to visit this huge extravagance and see so many innovative new products. Wrigley’s launched Juicy Fruit chewing gum, there were new forms of electric light bulbs, the original Ferris Wheel and the first travelators. In addition, there were national pavilions with exhibits – including people - from 40-odd countries of the world.
And, we read, one of the people with whom we have become quite familiar was there, too.
Yes, Frederick Douglass found an opportunity to speak about equality here as well.
Here in the museum, we were able to see a few of the exhibits which had been on show during the Fair, such as this fossilised pair of fishes.
There were stuffed animals too – a lion, a huge sea lion amongst them – all were shown at the fair before being packed away and placed in a storeroom until now. We felt very privileged to see them and could only imagine how it must have been to see such creatures face to face for the first time.
It was a remarkable exhibit and we were glad to learn more about it all. I’ve added a book to my reading list (or a film for my Netflix list) and I’ll look forward to finding out a little more about it all.
Before moving on, we took a breather on a seat with a fine view.
We had tickets for a 3D film show about the Ice Age which was fine, though a little underwhelming and a small opportunity for forty winks
Stepping in front of the heat sensitive camera was an opportunity for some self portraits.
Of course, we travel with Hollywood celebrities who prefer not to be recognised, dontcha know? But who’s the coolest of the three?
I‘ll leave you to guess.
One neat thing here was to be able to peer through glass windows and see what the scientists were up to. This one was working on a fossilised fish (rather like the one from the World’s Fair) but stopped to take a photo. Do you think he has a blog!?
A short zip through (we thought) a rather tired Egyptian room (or maybe it was we who were tired?) and it was time to go. We caught the bus back to WaterTower place and snuck in a little retail therapy before returning to the hotel.
Tomorrow we’ll be packing up and enjoying a few more hours in the city before heading to O’Hare for our flights home. For now, we’ll enjoy the last night of our 2014 Road Trip in the usual way – by watching HGTV and wondering where they get these people from!