Mummy exhibit reveals contents of Egyptian and Peruvian caskets

A Young boy and a young girl from Egypt about 250 AD are in the Mummies exhibit at the Field. Jodie Jacobs photo
A Young boy and a young girl from Egypt about 250 AD are in the Mummies exhibit at the Field. Jodie Jacobs photo

Certainly, the Field Museum is known for its T Rex and dinosaurs in its “Evolving Planet” exhibition and for its native American  exhibits including the popular Pawnee Earth Lodge.

But another favorite permanent exhibition is “Inside Ancient Egypt” where visitors descend down into a tomb and see painted mummy coffins.

Segment of photo by John Weinstein of a the Gilded Lady coffin from between 30 BC and 646 A, Egypt.
Segment of photo by John Weinstein of a the Gilded Lady coffin from between 30 BC and 646 A, Egypt.

Now, the contents of those coffins and others can be revealed because of current technology.

“Mummies,” the Field’s newest exhibition doesn’t just display coffins, many of which are gilded. It has wrapped mummies, mummy masks, some CT scans, a CT scanner and ceramics

It also has sculptures and 3D images that show what a mummified person likely looked like when alive.

For instance, there is a mummy of an Egyptian woman in the exhibit from 1,500 years ago that scientists say died when in her 40s, had curly hair and a slight overbite.

Just as fascinating are  interactive touch-table stations where visitors see artifacts and mummies the way scientists do.

Gilded Lady CT scan showed a woman in early forthies with curly hair who might have died of tuberculosis. Field Museum photo
Gilded Lady CT scan showed a woman in early forthies with curly hair who might have died of tuberculosis. Field Museum photo

“This exhibition allows visitors to see how we use modern technologies to learn about the lives of ancient peoples and cultures,” said Curator Bill Parkinson.

“Before, you would have to unwrap the mummy, or even cut it open, to learn more about it. Now we can use non-destructive methods to learn so much more about the past,” Parkinson said.

Also featured, is Peruvian mummification done by the Andean cultures earlier than in Egypt.

“One of the unique things about this exhibition is the inclusion of the Peruvian mummification traditions, which started much earlier than in Egypt and lasted until the Spanish conquest 500 years ago,” said Curator Ryan Williams. “That seven thousand year history of Andean mummification is something most people have never heard previously.”

Gilded Lady Sculpture by French forensic recreation artist Elisabeth Daynes shows what the mummy in the coffin may have looked like. E. Daynes photo
Gilded Lady Sculpture by French forensic recreation artist Elisabeth Daynes shows what the mummy in the coffin may have looked like. E. Daynes photo

“Mummies,” up now through April 21, was developed as a traveling exhibit by the Field Museum but has just returned home.

“Because the exhibition is back at its home base, we’ll be able to include some cool artifacts that were too fragile to send out on the road,” said Exhibitions Project Manager Janet Hong.

Thus, a couple of two-and-a-half-foot tall Peruvian beer jars, once shown at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair, were added to the exhibit.

Mummies is a ticketed exhibition. A Good way to see it and such exhibits available through General Admission such as “Inside Ancient Egypt” is with a Discovery or All-Access pass.

The Field Museum is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Hours: Daily 9 .am. to 5 p.m. except Christmas. For tickets and more information call  (312) 922-9410 and visit Field Museum.

Jodie Jacobs

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Chinese bronzes exhibit is timely and timeless

 

The actual bronzes pictured in a photo of a Chinese delegation to Chicago are on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
The actual bronzes pictured in a photo of a Chinese delegation to Chicago are on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

A timely new exhibit, “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and their Bronzes,” fills the Art Institute of Chicago’s Regensenstein Hall.  Opened Feb. 24, 2018, to coincide with the Chinese New Year, the exhibit’s ancient ornamental containers and related art pieces were used for a variety of ceremonies.

The exhibit, which continues through May 13, 2018, brings together many objects not seen outside of China.

Goblet (Late Shang dynasty about 1250-1046 BC) Art Institute of Chicago, Lucy Maud Buchkingham Collection.L. and Goblet of Father Ding (Western Zhou dynasty 1046-771 BC) Xiling Collection. Jacobs photo
Goblet (Late Shang dynasty about 1250-1046 BC) Art Institute of Chicago, Lucy Maud Buchkingham Collection.L. and Goblet of Father Ding (Western Zhou dynasty 1046-771 BC) Xiling Collection. Jacobs photo

A good chance to see how the bronzes, which are primarily from the second and first millennia BC, is to visit the Art Institute March 3 when the museum is holding a Lantern Celebration from 1 to 7:30 p..m. (free with museum admission) and “Concert Music of China – Past and Present” (free) from 3 to 4:15 p.m.

But no matter when visitors go there are few tips that should add to their experience.

Upon walking into the exhibition space, it is easy to start looking at all the vessels. There are nearly 200 works assembled from Beijing’s Palace Museum, Shanghai Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, other museums and from private collections.  They mirrored what was important in the Chinese culture during their period.

However, turn right first to see a large, wall-sized photo reproduction of a Chinese delegation that visited Chicago in the early 20th century. Look at the bronze set being held. Then see the actual pieces in a case across the room. The spectacular set is on loan from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A video shows how a clay mold is used to form the bronzes. Jacobs photo taken of the video
A video shows how a clay mold is used to form the bronzes. Jacobs photo taken of the video

Next, while meandering through the exhibit, stop in front of a small, easy-to-miss video screen on a long, wall to the right.. It shows how bronzes were created in molds.

However, this exhibit is not merely about the bronzes. It also is about the emperors who valued and collected them. So when turning the corner of the main room, stop and sit a minute where a short movie on Emperor Quianlong shows some of the treasures he housed in the Forbidden City, the imperial palace of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The complex is home to the Palace Museum.

The film and exhibition curator Tao Wang, the Art Institute’s Pritzker Chair of Asian Art explain Quianlong’s and other emperors’ views on the importance of collecting bronzes.

“For the emperor-collectors, ancient bronzes were more than a collection piece,” said Wang. “They were perceived as the Mandate of Heaven – an embodiment or symbol of moral and political authority.”

DETAILS: “Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and their Bronzes” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, now through May 13, 2018. For admission fees, hours and other information call (312) 433-3600 and visit ARTIC.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Work is play and serious in new MCA show

“I look at my work sometimes as play… a kind of joyous play.”

So said artist Howardena Pindell at the Museum of Contemporary Art opening of “What Remains To Be Seen.”

Howardene Pindell sits in front of Nautilus, (2014-15, mixed media on canvas from the Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis Collection. Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Howardena Pindell sits in front of Nautilus, (2014-15, mixed media on canvas from the Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis Collection. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

Even though Pindell’s works have been in shows every year for the past several years, the current MCA exhibit is the first, all encompassing survey of her 50-year career.

It includes her move from figurative to abstraction and activism to occasional returns to figurative forms. But throughout the periods are personal reactions to what it feels like to be black and female. Yet, the playfulness is evident throughout the exhibit.

Pindell enjoyed finding different tools and materials to create art including hole punchers, file-folder stock and beveled cutouts found in a museum’s trash where she was an assistant curator.

The exhibit features several works where holes were either punched or painted by means of oak-board stencils. Some are best viewed up close to note that works that at first appears monochromatic, isn’t.

The show reveals a fascination with numbers, math, patterns and grids. Indeed, visitors who look closely will find numbers in some of the hole-punch designs.

Segment showing the artistic use of hole punches.
Segment showing the artistic use of hole punches.

But in some works, the holes are merely a fascinating pattern.

In another series, numbers and arrows add interest to Pindell’s  video  drawings as if they were instructions. Created on acetate held by static electricity to a television screen, they are an impressive, unusual form of art.

Video Drawings: Swimming, 1975, chromogenic development print from the Museum of contemporary Art Chicago Collection.
Video Drawings: Swimming, 1975, chromogenic development print from the Museum of contemporary Art Chicago Collection.

“I was looking for a fun way to use the videos,” she said. She pointed out that some people thought the numbers and arrows looked like football playbook arrows.

Another technique was cutting up postcards from her extensive travels to form collages.

Part of her “Autobiography” series, they were memory aids because a life-threatening accident in 1979 included a serious concussion that resulted in temporary memory loss.

Work that is play in Pinell’s career is based on a strong art background.

Born in 1943, Pindell graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and other art schools before getting a BFA from Boston University and MFA from Yale.

“They all wanted me to use figurative art when I was moving into abstraction,” Pindell said at the exhibit opening.

She felt some satisfaction when an influential woman in the academic art world who had expressed a negative view of Pindell’s favoring abstraction over traditional figurative style, turned up at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC’s MoMA) where Pindell was working (first as an exhibit assistant and then an associate curator). “When she saw me, she said, “Oh.”

The MCA exhibit features her different styles. But what also comes across is her use of pattern and color.

"Autobiography: Fire (Suttee), 1986-87 Mixed media on canvas. Collection of Nancy and Peter Huber.
“Autobiography: Fire (Suttee),” 1986-87 Mixed media on canvas.
Collection of Nancy and Peter Huber.

Pindell, a longtime professor of art at Stony Brook University, New York (part of SUNY, a state university), stressed the importance of understanding color depth. She pointed out that she focused on the composition of color with her painting students.”They learn it’s not just, “red,” she explained.

No matter what the subject or materials used, exhibit visitors will see how Pindell’s use of color is very effective, ranging from ethereal to a rich.

Colors, materials and pattern movements seem to draw visitors into her works. Pindell refers to that phenomenon as “space.” “What I’m working on now is space going into the painting and space going out of the painting.”

She also puts herself into her works, literally.

Tips: Don’t walk too fast past “Autobiography: Fire (Suttee),” 1986-87. Done in mixed media on canvas and on loan from the Nancy and Peter Huber Collection, its rich colors and patterns might obscure the fact that there is an outline of Pindell’s body in the picture

It references a former custom of expecting a widow in India to kill herself after her husband dies. It also stands for human suffering and her own experiences with being black and a woman.

Also watch her in the performance video, “Free, White and 21” (1980) when she compares black and white women’s experiences.

DETAILS: “Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen,” is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., now through May 20, 2018. For more information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA Chicago.

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

Around Town: February

Instead of organizing the desk (or you name it), and wishing the groundhog prognosticators were wrong about six more weeks of winter, take in a show, find a special event to dispel gray skies and moods and take advantage of museum free days.

Theatre

The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

If the family has a Saturday available, get tickets to ‘Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Yard, Chicago Shakespeare’s newly added theater on Navy Pier . The show is a fun 75 minutes that merges the Bard’s humorous mismatching of characters in his comedies. The production is offered Saturdays now through March 10, 2018 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. To get tickets visit Chicago Shakes Plays.

 

Concert

Listen as famed tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs ‘Cycles of My Being,’ a recital that puts forth what it is like to live as a black man in America. Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Lyric Opera/Lyric Unlimited and Opera Philadelphia, the program will only be in chicago Feb. 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History. For more information visit Lyric Opera Cycles or call (312) 827-5600.

 

Walk around gorgeous, delicate orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Walk around gorgeous, delicate orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Botanics

Go to the Chicago Botanic Garden  Feb. 10 through March 25, 2018 to see orchids with an Asian accent. This year, the Garden’s Orchid Show blooms among kimonos, parasols and Asian plants. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. plus open later Thursdays to 8 p.m. For more information visit Chicago Botanic Garden orchid.

 

 

 

Museums

How about a night at the   museum,  that is among the fish?

Explore the Shedd during an overnight stay.
Explore the Shedd during an overnight stay.

 

For Presidents Day weekend stay the night Feb. 16, 2018 in a special program at the Shedd Aquarium that allows participants to explore the museum, see an aquatic presentation and do a scavenger hunt. The cost is $75 per person ($60 members).  For tickets and more information visit Shedd Aquarium Overnight.

 

Free Days

Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday when most schools in Illinois are closed to celebrate Presidents Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, is Feb. 19, 2018. Fortunately, some of Chicago’s museums are free that day.

Some Chicago museums have free admission.
Some Chicago museums have free admission.

The Adler Planetarium’s general admission is waved for Illinois residents Feb. 19-22.  For more information visit Adler.

Art Institute of Chicago has free admission to Chicago residents under age 18, every day. See ARTIC.

Chicago History Museum is free every day to children under 18 who are Illinois residents. Visit Chicago History.

The Field Museum has free general admission for Illinois residents all of February. Visit Field Museum free days.

 

Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art always has free admission. See National Museum of Mexican Art.

Find this amazing dome and room at the Chicago Cultural Center
Find this amazing dome and room at the Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center has a new exhibition on its fourth floor. Titled “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” it was organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. The Cultural Center also has other exhibits on its first floor. While in the building go to the third floor to see gorgeous glass domes and rooms. Admission is always free. Visit Chicago Cultural Center.

Get out and enjoy Chicago

Jodie Jacobs

 

Museums and celebrations offer quality ways to spend MLK Day

Many Chicago museums have free admission for MLK Day.
Many Chicago museums have free admission for MLK Day.

Fortunately when schools close for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, several Chicago museums answer the what-to-do question with free or discounted admission for Illinois residents. In addition, the Black Ensemble Theater and the Chicago Children’s Theatre also have programs.

Here are some places to spend quality time Jan. 15, 2018.

 

Museums

On Chicago’s Museum Campus, Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-7827,  The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 922-9410 and the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake shore Dr., (312) 939-2438, all have free general admission to Illinois residents. (Not included: all access to special exhibits).

At the Art Institute of Chicago, the Ryan Learning Center (entrance at the Modern Wing, 159 East Monroe St. is doing “Say it Loud” program of  story telling, arts and discussions from 10 :30 a.m. to 3 p.m. No registration needed. However, admission to the museum is also free that day for all Illinois residents as part Free Winter Weekdays, January 8–February 15, 2018.

The Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S Lake Shore Dr., (773) 684-1414, also has free general admission on Jan. 15 and is celebrating Black Creativity Family Day with special programs and art.

Chicago History Museum, 1601 North Clark Street (312) 642-4600, has free programs all day with free general admission to Illinois residents on MLK Day.

 

Theater

Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. at Monroe, has a free Martin Luther King Birthday party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Black Ensemble Theater at 4450 North Clark St., celebrates “And still we rise,”  from 6 to 9 p.m. with programs by the African American Arts Alliance. Tickets are $20 and includes a reception.

 

 

 

Unique gifts that work double time

 

A penguin with a purpose. A Wright that is right. Those are just two of the special gifts that can be found in Chicago museums.

Instead of fighting crowds on Black Friday, use the day off to visit a favorite museum and its gift shop. Museum stores are not only filled with fun and artistic gifts, they also funnel that money you spend back into programs and other costs.

Plus, holiday shopping when you can also watch penguins play or visit a favorite art period adds to the fun of finding a present that matches a person’s interest.

However, if you don’t make it down to Chicago, browse the museum stores’ web sites. They are easy to maneuver because most are broken into different categories so don’t worry if the first link you find merely says store. Watch for scrolling options and look for such links as jewelry, toys and home decor.

On Chicago’s Museum Campus

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd, in the middle of the Museum campus at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., is a favorite destination when youngsters and adults have a day off. However, you can also look in the shop on line to find everything from toddler shark hoodies to soft, plus animals that have wallett friendly prices. Visit Shedd Shop and call (312) 939-2438 if you have some questions.

A plush baby penguin is just one of the delightful items found on line in the Shedd Aquarium store. Shedd photo
A plush baby penguin is just one of the delightful items found on line in the Shedd Aquarium store. Shedd photo

Adler Planetarium 

Past the Shedd, all the way out to the eastern point of the museum campus is the Adler Planetarium,  at 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive.

The shop is perfect for the budding astronomer or astronaut wannabe. Think telescope, NASA hoodie or night sky projection.

The products are high quality and come in all prices. Check out Adler Shop and call (312) 922-7827 with questions.

Field Museum

First museum on the campus, the Field at 1400 S. Lake shore Dr., has a huge store worth a visit anytime you are on the museum campus. However, the store’s website is also huge. Note that different shop areas scroll across the Field store site. Click on one that particularly catches your attention or merelyh look for such categories as home  décor and toys. Among the sites is one for Ancient Mediterranean objects.  For other information call (312) 922-9410.

Art Museums

Art Institute of Chicago

Both sections of theArt Institute of Chicago, the traditional building at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and the Modern Wing at 159 E. Monroe St. have wonderful gift shops near their entrances so visitors can shop without paying admission. But if there, it is hard to resist visiting a favorite gallery.

If shopping  on line look for different categories such as apparel, stationary, books (even coloring books for famous paintins or architectural items, glass objects or a particular artist at AICShop.  There is even a site for all Frank Lloyd Wright items.  For other information call (312) 443-3600.

Frank Lloyd Wright decorative items, tgies and clock can be found on the Art Institute of Chicago's store website. Art Institute of chicago photo
Frank Lloyd Wright decorative items, tgies and clock can be found on the Art Institute of Chicago’s store website. Art Institute of chicago photo

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Visit the MCA, as it is popularly known, to see its latest exhibition of important contemporary works upstairs on the Fourth Floor but also to dine in its new restaurant on the ground floor. The museum is at 220 E. Chicago Ave.

But if saving that visit for a day after the holidays, go on line to the MCA Store to vfnd such fun objects as desktop and hanging mobiles or fun, objects by artist Murakami.

For more information call (312) 289-2660.

 

Other Museums

Chicago History Museum

If trying to match a present to a history buff or someone interested in Chicago, a great place to find a book or related gift is at the Chicago History Museum Shop. The building, situated in Lincoln Park at 1601 N. Clark St., is  also an easy bus ride from downtown Chicago.

Museum of Science and Industry

Visit MSI to see its Robots, Lego or Mirror Maze exhibit or for its fairy castle or coal mine. You will find related items and gifts for you young scientiist in the museum gift shop. The museum is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive near the Hyde Park/ University of Chicago neighborhoods.

But you can also shop on line for toys, books and other gift items. The store has a gift guide.

Happy shopping and have a joyous holiday.

Jodie Jacobs

 

Around Town: Holiday Happenings

Pumpkins still adorn some front doorsteps and Halloween candies still sit on some shelves but with Thanksgiving coming early this year (Nov. 23) and stores looking for a cheerful buying season, holiday decorations and events are already going up and beckoning.

If you have been downtown Chicago recently near Daley Plaza you likely noticed that the Christkindlmarket is already going up for its Nov. 17 opening and that Macy’s has already decorated its State Street and some Randolph Street windows.  Its 45 foot high Great Tree is up in the Walnut Room  sparkling with 2,000 ornaments and 6,600 lights.

Macy's State Stree windows are about Magic, pictured here, Love, Giving and other holiday themes. Photo by Carole Kuhrt Brewer.
Macy’s State Stree windows are about Magic, pictured here, Love, Giving and other holiday themes. Photo by Carole Kuhrt Brewer.

So yes, it’s somewhat early to plan on where to go for some holiday cheer of the non-alcholoic, event type. But if you don’t want to miss a fun activity, a repeat of a delightful family tradition or something that might start a new tradition, take a look at what’s coming up, print this and circle those events worth putting on your calendar.

The events tend to fall into those that open Nov. 17 and the ones that start the day after Thanksgiving on Nov. 24.

 

Beginning Nov. 17

City of Chicago’s Tree Lighting

Head to Millennium Park before 6 p.m.  to ooh and aah when the lights switch on the 62 foot Norway sprice donated by Darlene Dorfler, Grayslake. The Oakdale Christian Academy Choir will be singing and cast members from Goodman Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ will perform.  Santa and Mrs. Claus are also expected to visit. Admission is free. The tree will be up through Jan. 6, 2018.

Christkindlmarket Chicago 

City of Chicago Tree lighting is Nov. 17, 2017. City of Chicago photo.
City of Chicago Tree lighting is Nov. 17, 2017. City of Chicago photo.

The Chicago Christkindlmarket opens weekdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and stays open Friday-Saturday until 9 p.m. Location: Washington Street between Clark and Dearborn Streets. Admission free. For other information call (312) 494-2175.

Morton Arboretum Illumination

See trees from a different perspective when the Morton Arboretum has lights moving on them to music. In addition there is an Illu-medallion that can now be purchased to reflect the interactive light display.  Tickets are date and time specific.  Morton Arboretum is at 4100 Il Hwy 53, Lisle. For more information call (630) 968-0074.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival 

Trees glow and lights move to music at the Morton Arboretum's Illumination festival. Morton Arboretum photo
Trees glow and lights move to music at the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination festival. Morton Arboretum photo

The festival opens Friday with activities and food from 4 to 8 p.m. in Lights Festival Lane (Pioneer Court) at 401 N. Michigan Avenue. The Michigan Avenue tree-lighting parade, sponsored by BMO Harris Bank and led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, happens on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. after a day of activities starting at 11 a.m. at Pioneer Court and at Michigan Avenue shops. The parade begins at Oak Street and goes south to Wacker Drive ending with Fireworks at 6:55 p.m. .

Christmas Around the World at Museum of Science and Industry

Begun in 1942 with one tree, the exhibit now has a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree plus more than 50 trees and displays. They are decorated by volunteers to represent many different cultures. MSI is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.

 

Beginning Nov. 24

Christkindlmarket and more

The European holiday market is now opening in other Chicago area attractions. On Nov. 24 it opens in Naperville at the Naper Settlement, 523 S Webster St, and at the Park at Wrigley, 3637 N. Clark St.

Christkindlemarket at Daley Plaza. Jodie Jacobs photo
Christkindlemarket at Daley Plaza. Jodie Jacobs photo

If going to Wrigley, bring skates ($5 age 13 and older, free 12 and under) or rent them there because along with the Christkindlmarket the Park has an ice skating rink. If going there Nov. 28, take in the Tree-Lighting Ceremony when a Colorado Spruce tree from will sparkle with 2,700 bulbs. Instead of worrying about parking take the CTA Red Line or Clark bus 22 or Addison 152.

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland

The garden welcomes winter with a wonderland of lights outside and miniature trains speeding around Chicago landmarks plus decorated halls and greenhouses inside. Entry is ticketed and datge and time specific. The garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Rd, just east of Edens Expessway, Glencoe. (847) 835-5440

Wreathing of the Lions 

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland. Jodie Jacobs photo
Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland. Jodie Jacobs photo

Art Institute of Chicago’s annually welcomes the holidays with a wreathing of its famous lion statues at 10 a.m., then continues the day with hot chocolate, music and drop in art activities through 3 p.m. While there, stop downstairs at the Thorne Miniature rooms because they are fun to see and some even get a holiday decoration. The museum is at 111 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago Park District holiday flower shows

Both the Garfield Conservatory Holiday Show of Fire and Ice and the Lincoln Park Conservatory Holiday Flower Show open Nov. 24. For details visit Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory.

 

 

Field Museum exhibit is ancient and timely

 

Visitors stepping into “Ancient Mediterranean Cultures in Contact” at the Field Museum are likely to have a preconceived notion that they will be looking at exceptional examples of jewelry, pottery and probably a mummy and objects from Pompeii. But you would be just partially right.

Coptic materials at the end of "Ancient Mediterranean Cultures in contact" exhibit at the Field Museum
Coptic materials at the end of “Ancient Mediterranean Cultures in contact” exhibit at the Field Museum

Those items are there. In fact, there are about 100 fine examples of early Egyptian, Etruscan Greek and Roman objects pertaining to their polytheistic societies. But there is also a clip from a CNN broadcast at the entrance and Coptic material from a later monotheistic culture plus a modern day child’s life jacket at the end.

Curving around through the exhibit guests pass tall story boards about societal changes regarding religions, language and ideas. One board says: As Ideas Move Societies Change.

The boards are reminders that even back in the time the objects were made, whether BC or early A.D., the people using them were members of societies influenced by other cultures through trade, travel and wars and that they valued or argued about techniques and ideas from other places.

One board says: “When societies interact, things move, people move and ideas move.” It goes on to explain: “We experience this in our own lives when we buy imported fruit at the store, talk to a neighbor who grew up in another country or take a yoga class at the gym. But the movement of things, people and ideas across cultures isn’t new – this has been going on since the beginning of human history.”

Cultures and ideas change as people move is an important point of Field exhibit. Jodie Jacobs photos
Cultures and ideas change as people move is an important point of Field exhibit. Jodie Jacobs photos

Bill Parkinson who put the exhibition together originally considered doing an exhibit of Roman and Etruscan cultures. “The Field has fabulous Roman and Etruscan collections,” said Parkinson, associate curator of Eurasian anthropology.

But then he added that when an exhibit begins with the word “The” as in “The Greeks,” which, by the way, was a very fine Field exhibit November 2015 to April 2016, it concentrates just on one culture’s objects and contributions.

He pointed out that the idea for the current exhibit which opens Oct. 20, 2017 and continues through April 29, 2018, began about the same time as “The Greeks” but with a different objective

“It is about ideas. We’re telling stories about people. It’s interesting looking 800 to 200 B.C at the Etruscans, Rome, Pompei and how they relate to each other. As we pulled it all in, how Etruscans related to Greece and Rome related to Egypt it was an Oh, moment. The connections exploded,” Parkinson said.

The Coptic material is also important. “When cultures went from polytheistic to monotheistic those connections exploded. One god became critical during the first millennium. (January 1, AD 1, and ended on December 31, AD 1000), he said.

Tip: Because this exhibit is about connections rather than what happened first and second, it’s arranged by influences and connections, not chronologically. So while enjoying such objects as a necklace, a well-carved figure or an attractive pot, look at their descriptions because they mention influences such as how an item was made by one society in the style of a different culture.

A falcon pendant of Horus, an Egyptian god, from before 300 B.C. in the exhibit is a reminder that the Greeks and Romans also adopted him and that the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans imported some elements of deities, architecture and art from Egypt. The gold necklaces made in the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. in Italy ar a reminder that as the Roman Empire grew it accumulated wealth and was influenced by its expanded resources.
A falcon pendant of Horus, an Egyptian god, from before 300 B.C. in the exhibit is a reminder that the Greeks and Romans also adopted him and that the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans imported some elements of deities, architecture and art from Egypt. The gold necklaces made in the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. in Italy ar a reminder that as the Roman Empire grew it accumulated wealth and was influenced by its expanded resources.

“The objects tell stories. When we pulled them for the collection we did so to tell a truth about the time,” Parkinson said.

The exhibit also makes the point with TV broadcasts and found objects that societal connections continue today.

Or as Parkinson noted: “You don’t expect to see CNN or another headline when you walk into an ancient Mediterranean show or see Coptic material at the end.”

The Field Museum is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. “Ancient Mediterranean Cultures in Contact” goes from Oct. 20, 2017 through April 29, 2018. This is a ticketed show. For tickets, hours and other information call (312) 922-9410 and visit Field Museum.

 

 

 

Holocaust and modern heroes featured in Take A Stand exhibition

 

Imagine being able to ask questions of Holocaust survivors not just now while many are in their 80’s, but 10 and 20 years from now after they have died.

Or think about what can happen when no one speaks out against discrimination and injustice.

The new Survivor Stories Theater at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, Skokie
The new Survivor Stories Theater at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, Skokie.

The folks at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie have done more than merely ponder those possibilities and issues.

On Oct. 29, 2017, Take a Stand Center, the museum’s new, three-part permanent exhibition opens to the public.

Visitors can hear 13 Holocaust stories and ask questions of the speakers through  holographic, interactive technology in the Center’s Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience.

In the Goodman Upstanders Gallery, they can listen to the stories of 40 modern heroes who were willing to take a stand for social justice.

Then, inspired by these stories and examples, guests learn how to follow through based on their own convictions at the Take a Stand Lab.

After explaining that survivors telling their stories through holograms grew out of an idea from board member Jim Goodman, Illinois Holocaust Museum CEO Susan Abrams noted that the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California had been thinking along the same lines.

Working with Shoah and adding more technical experts, the recording time of each of the survivors in the exhibit was extended to include replies to questions viewers would likely have.  So that after hearing a story the listener is asked, “What do you want to know.”

“The experience is very strong. Custom voice recognition software prompts the answers,” Abrams said. “One of the things we’re doing is helping survivors communicate for generations to come.”

She added, “There is no substitute for human interaction to develop empathy.”

Note: Survivor stories are timed and recommended for ages 11 and older. Click here for reservation.

The Upstander Gallery in the new Take A Stand Center at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.
The Upstander Gallery in the new Take A Stand Center at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

When moving to modern tales in the internationally-filled Upstanders section, visitors will come across such local heroes as Peace Builder Henry Cervantes at the Chicago-based Peace Exchange that teaches young community leaders to advocate for nonviolence,  Syrian American Medical Society Past President Zaher Sahloul, MD., and Syrian Community Network Founder and Executive Director Suzanne Akras Sahloul.

At the end of another museum exhibit is the sad, important phrase, “Never Again.”

“You’ve heard “Never Again, but never again has not been a reality,” Abrams said.

In the Take a Stand Center is the Take a Stand Lab to help people become engaged. “The third section has tools for change so that an individual, a school an organization can learn to advocate,” she said.

Pointing out that people often ask what one person could do, Abrams said, “This section answers that question, what can you do.”

Tools include how to learn about legislation or petitions and how write to a legislator and how else to act on an issue whether it’s civil rights, social rights or economic rights.

Visitors can take an action tool kit home. To learn more visit tools.

To prove that reaching out and doing something can make a difference, the Lab includes examples of success.

“We want the exhibition to move people from knowledge and inspiration to taking action,” Abrams said.

With a nod to a recent resurgence in activism, she said, “The exhibit is timeless and very timely.”

DETAILS: The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is at 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie, just west of the Old Orchard shopping center. For more information call (847) 967-4800 and visit IL Holocaust Museum.

 

Iraqi and Mideast cultural losses seen through an artist’s eyes

Visitors to "Backstoke of the Midwest" at the MCA walk through a recreated ancient Iraqi Gate. Photos by Jodie Jacobs
Visitors to “Backstoke of the West” at the MCA walk through a recreated ancient Iraqi Gate. Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

It’s hard not to follow what has been happening to the people, politics and conflicts in Iraq and throughout the Mideast, but to get an artist’s take on the events see “Backstroke of the West” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

The works are Chicago-based, Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz’s take on the personal and historic objects destroyed during the conflicts and how they can be memorialized and interpreted through art.

Born of an American father and an Iraqi-Jewish mother, Rakowitz uses such ironic materials as newspapers to recreate looted items and Arabic food packaging to replicate the ancient Ishtar Gate. A section even illustrates how he served Iraqi dishes on Saddam Hussein’s china.

To further explain how Rakowitz seeks to bring people of different cultural and social backgrounds together he gives his projects such titles as “The invisible enemy should not exist”  and “May the Arrogant Not Prevail.”

To accompany the exhibition, there is a pop-up food truck outside the MCA that will serve Iraqi dishes from family recipes.

Curator Omar Kholeif, l, and Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz give an opening day tour of "Backstorke of the West" at the MCA.
Curator Omar Kholeif, l, and Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz give an opening day tour of “Backstorke of the West” at the MCA.

Organized by MCA Manilow Senior Curator Omar Kholeif, Manilow, Director of Global Initiatives, the exhibit is the first major museum survey of Rakowitz’s work.

Opened Sept. 16, 2017, the show runs through March 4, 2018. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is at 220 E Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

For hours, admission and other information call (312) 280-2660 and visit MCA.