Around Town: Family activities in early April

 

Adler Planetarium has free days and discounted tickets. (J Jacobs photo)
Adler Planetarium has free days and discounted tickets. (J Jacobs photo)

Some schools still have spring vacation but not all places suggested here need be visited during the week. They all are destinations for adults and youngsters any time of year.

 

 

Chicago Architecture Center has exhibits and a studio where families can construct something. (Photo courtesy of CAC)
Chicago Architecture Center has exhibits and a studio where families can construct something. (Photo courtesy of CAC)

Chicago Architecture Center

Even though CAF is now known as CAC and is in a new location on east Wacker Drive overlooking the Chicago River and it is a place to get tickets for tours and its famed architecture boat excursion, the place has a wonderful diorama on its main floor and interesting exhibits upstairs.

However, it also has the ArcelorMittal Design Studio which on Sundays welcomes families interested in building something themselves.  The studio is also a place to learn some architecture basics at themed stations. That doesn’t mean it’s just for older children. The age base is 3 and anyone younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

The $12 admission fee includes CAC. The studio construction program is at 10 a.m. Visit Family Build for more information and registration. For CAC information visit Architecture/Visit. CAC is at 111 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago

Field Museum features dinos and mummies. (J Jacobs photo)
Field Museum features dinos and mummies. (J Jacobs photo)

Illinois resident free-day at Adler Planetarium and The Field Museum in early April

Adler Planetarium

Stop by the planetarium April 2-4 or April 9-11 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to learn about galaxies, black holes and more space phenomenon. During Illinois Resident Free General Admission Days.

General Admission provides access to exhibitions and experiences  except for the “Atwood Sphere Experience” and sky shows. However discounted exhibit tickets are available on free days.

For more information call (312) 922-7827 or visit Adler offers. The  Adler Planetarium is at the far eastern end of the Museum Campus at 1300 S.Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

The Field Museum

The Field has free general  admission and discounted passes April 5-7 . All access discount tickets are $23, adults, $17 children 3-11, $20 seniors and students with ID. Discovery passes that include one ticketed exhibit are $16, $12 and $14. Some of the ticketed exhibits are Evolving Planet, Trex, Mummies, Photographers of the Year, China and Egypt.

The Field Museum is the first and furthest west building on the Museum
Campus  at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. For more information call (312) 922- 9410  and visit Field Musuem and Field events/free.

 

Play word games at the American Writers Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
Play word games at the American Writers Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

American Writers Museum

For an experience of a different kind, (what word would you like to insert here?) visit a museum where families can write together, play word games together, visit a Children’s Literature Gallery, Learn about written words and quotes going back centuries and something about Chicago writers.

Admission is $12 adults, free to children 12 and younger,$ 8 seniors and students. For hours and other information call 312.374.8790 and visit American Writers Museum and AWM/exhibits.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

Chicago designates Water Tower area as arts district

 

Commissioner Mark Kelly is among Chicago dignaeries and arts organization representatives that launched the Water Tower Arts District March 12, 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago)
Commissioner Mark Kelly is among Chicago dignaeries and arts organization representatives that launched the Water Tower Arts District March 12, 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago)

 

Do you know Chicago’s WTA District?

Visitors and Chicago area residents are arguably familiar with the city’s Theatre District of show venues in the Loop and the Museum Campus next to Soldier Field.

Now add the Water Tower Arts District to Chicago’s cultural district scene.

Now, the city has officially designated an area both sides of North Michigan Avenue that stretches approximately from Streeterville to the Gold Coast as the WTAD.East of LaSalle Street from Illinois Street to North Avenue .

Launched at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago by Commissioner Mark Kelly of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on March 12, 2019, the new district includes these 15 cultural organizations: (1) The Arts Club of Chicago, (2) Broadway in Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, (3) City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower, (4) Graham Foundation, (5) International Museum of Surgical Science, (6) Lookingglass Theatre Company, (7) Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), (8) Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), (9) the Newberry Library, (10) Poetry Foundation, (11) Porchlight Music Theatre, (12) Richard Gray Gallery, (13) the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, (14) the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and (15) the Society of Architectural Historians.

Water Tower Arts District map with 15 arts institutions (Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art)
Water Tower Arts District map with 15 arts institutions
(Photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art)

Anyone old enough to recall “Bug House Square,” the once popular tag for Washington Square Park south of Newbery Library where people would debate social issues, will understand Kelly’s reference during the launch to the area as Bohemian.

Plus, he and Chicago historian Pamela Bannos noted that the area around the Water Tower, was once known as “Towertown,”  a Bohemian arts stronghold, so the new designation was really a return to its roots.

“This tightly knit group of arts organizations raises the same spirit of camaraderie and collaboration as they reclaim the District and invite visitors to experience a diverse array of cultural activities…,” Kelly said.

Lookingglass Theatre Company resides in the historic Chicago Water Works across from its sister, the historic Water Tower. (J Jacobs Photo)
Lookingglass Theatre Company resides in the historic Chicago Water Works across from its sister, the historic Water Tower. (J Jacobs Photo)

Lookingglass Executive Director Rachel Fink likes that the arts organizations are joining together to attract attention. “It felt a little isolated over here…,” said Fink. “The Mag Mile  has a different focus.”

The process of gathering together, which she recalled started about five months ago, has also introduced her to other arts organizations in the neighborhood.

“I like meeting our neighbors. It’s been an incredible opportunity for me” she said. “Now I know more the Driehaus Museum and I learned about the interesting (International) Museum of Surgical Science.”

She added, “It helps to do things as a community. Now we’re celebrating and  brainstorming together.

For more information and descriptions of the 15 organizations and activities, visit the website Watertowerarts.  The site and the graphic designation were created by Chicago designers Michael Savona, and Tobey Albright plus Mollie Edgar from Hour. Photographs of the institutions were done by Chicago artist Assaf Evron.

Jodie Jacobs

Where it’s summer: No plane ticket needed

 

Don’t let Chicago’s Brr-rated temps keep you from going out when you could be enjoying beach and equator-like weather and fun. One of the places you can shed coats, hats and gloves and sit in a deck chair is The Beach at Navy Pier. The other place envelopes you in tropical warmth and greenery at The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

 

Go to The Beach at Navy Pier. (Photo courtesy of Navy PIer)
Go to The Beach at Navy Pier. (Photo courtesy of Navy PIer)

The Beach Chicago

You know you experience is going to be interesting when one of the rules to enter The Beach is to empty pockets of keys, jewelry, phones and fit-bits because they can be lost, not in the sand but in an ocean of a million plastic balls.

Play, relax and watch youngsters uninhibitedly dive because this ocean is safe. BTW, no shoes allowed so wear fun socks.

Designed by Snarkitecture founder Daniel Arsham and his crew, The Beach is a fun architectural installation that has gone into an arena in Tampa, a national museum with a large lobby in Washington D.C. and now, the large ballroom at Navy Pier.

Opened Jan. 19 and going through Feb. 3, 2019, The Beach is just in time to counteract Chicago’s icy winds.

But check rules ahead of time for dos and don’ts such as no strollers, eating or drinking or throwing the balls and do use self-service lockers for valuables.

Presented by Navy Pier and Expo Chicago, entry to The Beach is free. For parking fees and locations and public transportation check Navy Pier. To see the Tampa installation visit Youtube TampaBeach. To learn more about the beach installation visit Snarkitecture. Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. For more information  call 1-800 595-PIER (7437) and visit The Beach Chicago.

 

Escape wintery winds at the Chicago Botanic Garden Greenhouses. (Photo by J Jacobs)
Escape wintery winds at the Chicago Botanic Garden Greenhouses. (Photo by J Jacobs)

Chicago Botanic Garden Greenhouses

Escape to temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees (Fahrenheit) in the Semitropical Greenhouse surrounded by ferns, delightful  gardenia and bougainvillea. Look for  penguins and cranes. They won’t waddle or fly off. The Semitropical Greenhouse has topiaries around each corner.

Then feel the warmth of the Tropical Greenhouse and breathe in its wonderfully moist air. Look for cocoa pods on the “chocolate tree,” orchids growing on the Botanic Garden’s constructed trees and bromeliads  hanging from other constructions. Look for the large leaves and maroon-colored flowers of the banana plants.

Go from moist to dry climates in the Arid Greenhouse. Daytime here is really warm between 80 and 90 degrees but when the sun goes down these plants like cold so the temperature drops to half that. Look for interesting cacti shapes but don’t touch. Many of these plants are prickly.

Entry to to Chicago Botanic Garden is free. For parking fees and public transportation suggestions (about half a mile from the Braeside Metra stop) visit Chicago Botanic. The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. For more information call (847) 835-5440.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around town in December

Certainly Joffrey Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and Macy’s State Street holiday windows are on many folks’ traditional “do” list. But there are also other good shows to see and fun places to go as December 2018 turns into January 2019.

Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Cendrillon (Cinderella)at Lyric Opera. (Photo courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Shows

“Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s “not happily ever after” take on traditional fairy tales, is at Music Theater Works at Cahn Auditorium on Sheridan Road in Evanston Dec. 22-31. Music Theater Works was formerly called Light Opera Works.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is about magic, love, and in this production at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, is backed by a mash-up of rock, jazz, blues and doo-wop., Dec. 6, 2018 -Jan 27, 2019.

“La Ruta” world premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre  Dec. 13-Jan. 27. At U.S.-owned factories in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Ruta is just a bus. But to the women who live, work and often disappear along the route, it’s much more.

Opera

“Cendrillon” (Cinderella) at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, select dates from Dec. 1 through Jan. 20.

Concerts

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass plays numbers from Holst to Tchaikovsky, 8 p.,. Dec. 19, at Chicago Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave. and the CSO does Handel’s “Messiah” at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Symphony Center.

Activities

Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)
Ice skating at rink in Millennium Park (Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

Ice skate free in Millennium Park if you bring your skates, skate rental is $13 weekdays and $15 Friday-Sunday and holidays. Skating rink is street level on Michigan Avenue below Cloud Gate (The Bean) between Washington and Madison Streets.  Hours and more information at Millennium Park.

Take a “Holiday Lights, City Lights’ bus tour with the Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago and then check out CAC’s diorama on the main floor and skyscraper exhibit upstairs.

However, you can still find traditional holiday ideas at After Thanksgiving and Holiday shows and shopping plus light sights.

Enjoy!

Jodie Jacobs

 

New Chicago Architecture Center definitely worth a visit

 

Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)
Chicago city model at Chicago Architecture Center on East Wacker Drive. (Photo by Anthony Tahlier)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation has moved to a perfectly placed space on Wacker Drive across form the Chicago River and near the starting point of its famed Architecture Boat Tour.

Called the Chicago Architecture Center, the space is more than a good place to pick up tickets for the boat or other tours previously stamped CAF, now CAC.

See the Chicago City Model

On the main floor is the start of a two-level exhibit that contains a room-long model of downtown Chicago basically from the South Loop up to Lincoln Park.

Filled with more than 4.200 buildings that do more than just sit there looking pretty, the city model tells stories.Read More

Iceland in Chicago

 

Taste of Iceland has taken over Chicago for a four-day festival of Icelandic cuisine, art and culture.

Among the events was an architecture talk and vodka tasting at Marshall’s Landing in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The Mart overlooks a splendid view of the riverfront with examples of Chicago’s own stunning architecture just outside the window.

Museum Managing Director Halla Helgadottir. Photo by Reno Lovison
Iceland Design Centre Museum Managing Director Halla Helgadottir. Photo by Reno Lovison

There, we visited a presentation by Halla Helgadottir, Managing Director of the Iceland Design Centre Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Centre has the distinction of being the most visited museum “per capita” of any museum in the world, the joke being that with Iceland’s small population it is estimated that more than 10% of the nation has visited the museum.

Helgadottir shared photos of several of Iceland’s architectural points of interest including the Harpa Concert Hall whose exterior looks as though it has been chiseled out of a giant sold piece of crystal clear ice.

Harpa Concert Hall, an example of Iceland architecture. Iceland Design Centre photo
Harpa Concert Hall, an example of Iceland architecture. Design Centre photo. Iceland.

Conversely, there was a photo of a farm house that was built largely underground and was reminiscent of the dugouts built by prairie pioneers in Kansas and other parts of the Midwest during the great westward expansion in the U.S.

Like the prairie pioneers, the Icelanders have precious little wood so alternative building options are required.

Read More