An old-time schoolhouse room, Civil War uniforms, farm equipment, dinosaur bones and a resort-style lake boat are all reasons to wander through Lake County Forest Preserves’ Dunn Museum.
But on view now to March 19, 2023, an Underground Railroad exhibit is added incentive to put the museum on the visit list. Just don’t be surprised it is shrouded in darkness. That was the safest time to escape slavery.
Born Jan. 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr Day is celebrated the third Monday of January with community service and art projects, retelling his famed “I Have A Dream” speech, films and singing.
These celebrations are a few of the gatherings Jan. 16, 2023 in the Chicago area plus one that is in Philadelphia, but also online.
In Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood the Chicago History Museum is celebrating from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with an opening ceremony followed by a sing-along then a fair. For the schedule and other details visit Chicago History Museum, MLK Day. The museum also has a temporary exhibit called “Remembering Dr. King.” The Chicago History Museum borders the park at 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago.
In Evanston, Diverse Communities United is holding a youth led multimedia showcase and celebration of Dr. King’s legacy called “It Starts With Me.” The event runs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave., Evanston. It’s free but find it and reserve a spot at Eventbrite Diverse communities United.
In Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood the Hyde Park Art Center is hosting “Southside Stories” from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. in collaboration with South Side Spaces, Arts + Public Life, Court Theater, Intonation and Lumpen Radio. The Hyde Park Art Center 5020 South Cornell Avenue Chicago. The event is free but check reservations at Eventbrite Southside Stories.
Online find a Martin Luther King Jr. Day program at the National Constitution Center. There is a look/discussion of his speech at 11:45 a.m and 1:45 p.m. ET and a family concert at 12:45 and 2:45 p.m. ET. The programs are free but need registration. The Constitution Center and Museum is 525 Arch St. Philadelphia, PA (215) 409-6600.
Plan now because it seems everything from tree lightings and light festivals are starting early this year.
Remember when we used to think the holiday season began with Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade early on “Turkey Day?” Then the Mag Mile pre-empted that with Mickey and Minnie Mouse turning on Michigan Avenue’s lights north of the Chicago River, accompanied by Santa. Meanwhile, Macy’s was following Marshal Field’s tradition of a Great Tree, lunch in the Walnut Room and wonderful holiday windows.
Chicago area’s two big zoos soon added to the holiday places-to-visit calendar with lights and animation. More recently gardens and nature walks such as the Morton Arboretum and Chicago Botanic Garden, got into the holiday spirit with color, lights and movement. Germany said, why not, so entered Chicago’s holiday season with the Christkindle Market.
Macy’s liked Marshal Field’s tradition so continue the Great Tree, lunch in the Walnut Room and wonderful, story-telling holiday windows.
Keeping track of what is around, when and where in the Chicago area can be challenging even when suburban and neighborhood residents mark their calendars with local tree lightings and events. So here is a short guide to the main holiday happenings.
Already started early November
Macy’s came out with their Great Tree Lighting, Santa visits, Walnut Room availability and windows theme the first week of November.
What to know: The Great Tree is 45 feet tall and is decorated on a toy-shop theme and is up through Jan. 8 2023. Santa Claus photo ops and wish whispers have to be reserved in advance. Santa is in his toy workshop on the Fifth Floor and reservations to visit him go through Dec. 24, 2022. The windows are already decorated and good for photos through Jan. 1, 2022. For reservations and more information visit Macy’s Holiday Celebrations: Visit Santa & More – 2022 (macys.com)
Macy’s is at 111 N State St., Chicago.
Second week in November
The switch went on and the last installation was done when Lightscape opened to Friends and Family at the Chicago Botanic Garden Nov. 9. Opened to the public (advance tickets needed) Nov. 11, Lightscape casts a fantasy vision over paths, trees, ponds and plantings with lights and music. It continues through Jan. 8, 2023. For tickets and more information visit Chicago Botanic/Lightscape.
Third week and weekend in November
This is a very busy time for holiday events ranging from the city’s tree lighting and a European holiday market to zoo lights and lit paths at an arboretum.
Go downtown for Chicago’s tree lighting Nov. 18 in Millenium Park. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. with a pre-program at 5 p.m. The action is near Cloud Gate on the Grainger Stage. Visitors should enter at the South Promenade on Monroe Street east of Michigan Avenue. Don’t expect the lighting to happen until 6:30 but stay because fireworks follow the ceremony. For more information visit City of Chicago :: City of Chicago Christmas Tree
The German village-style Christkindl Market opens Nov. 18 a few blocks west of Millennium Park on Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St. A fun place to find gifts or take a yummy break from work or shopping, the Market is up through Dec. 24. For Chicago information visit Christkindlmarket | Holiday Market 2022 | Chicago
Lincoln Park Zoo spreads out just west of Lake Michigan between downtown Chicago and Wrigleyville so visitors sometimes try to couple its Zoolights with another holiday goodie. Presented by Com Ed with Invesco QQQ,, Zoolights is an impressive display at the city’s free zoo and costs only $5 a ticket for this holiday event. Zoo lights is Nov. 19, 2022 through Jan. 1, 2023. For hours, dates and more information visit ZooLights.
Also opening Jan 19 is the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination. Running through Jan. y7, 2023, Illumination transforms a mile long path among trees, meadow and gardens into a fairytale land of light, sound and color. The event combines old favorites such as the Enchanted Forest and Treeimagination, with new installations such as Late Nite Electric Illumination, tall, mirrored towers and a finale in the new Grand Garden. For more information visit Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum | The Morton Arboretum
Wait, as the commercials say: There’s more.
Last but not at all least this week is the Magnificent (Mag) Mile Lights Festival’s parade and day of activities starting at 11 a.m. at 401 N. Michigan Ave. Sponsored by Wintrust, the parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Mickey and Minnie Mouse (from the Walt Disney World Resort) lead the parade as they magically turn on one million lights along North Michigan Avenue.
What to expect: floats, helium balloons, marching bands, musical performances, Santa Claus ending with fireworks at the Chicago River. The event will also stream on Nov. 20 on ABC. For more information visit MagMileLights.
A giant helium balloon floats over State Street during a Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. (J Jacobs photo)
Fourth week and weekend in November
Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade brings the sounds of cymbals, blares of trumpets and the sight of giant helium balloons and beautiful floats to State Street, that main street, Nov. 24.
The parade goes from Ida B Wells Drive at the south end to Randolph on the north. Figure that bands and entertainment from some of Chicago’s theaters could start as early as 8 a.m. and go to 11 a.m. For more information visit Chicago Thanksgiving Parade.
Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo starts Nov. 25 and continues on specific dates through Dec. 31 from 3 to 9 p.m. Presented by ComEd and Meijer, the zoo is a blaze with two miles of lights and colors moving to synchronized music.A new feature is a 600-foot “Tunnel of Lights” by Xfinity.
Not all colors are outdoors at the Chicago Botanic Garden. While CBG is getting ready outdoors for its soon to be sold out holiday Lightscape, the Fine Art of Fiber has taken over the inside of the Regenstein Center.
Chicago Theater and Arts stopped for a sneak preview while it was setting up. Its impressive.
Extraordinary quilts, wall hangings and wearable fiber art such as shawls and jewelry, can be seen and items bought at the Art of Fiber show but it only goes Nov. 4-6, 2022. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more info visit Chicago Botanic Garden.
Penguins aren’t the only cute, playful animals capturing attention at the Shedd.
Its two new otters now have names. The Shedd’s Animal Care Team has named Otter 926 as Suri for California’s Big Sur coast line between Carmel and San Simeon.
Go to Brookfield Zoo operated by the Chicago Zoological Society in suburban Brookfield, IL for lots of animal sightings, but not for its seven bottlenose dolphins.
Beginning early November, the dolphins (along with their support staff) have taken up residence at the Minnesota Zoo for about seven months while Brookfield’s Seven Seas area is undergoing renovations.
Among the renovations is installation of a lift platform to allow quick adjustment to water depth, a new roof and a climate-controlled purifying system.
For more Brookfield Zoo info visit Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield.
Meanwhile, in the southwest suburb of Brookfield, female pygmy hippopotamus Banana, is getting acclimated to her new home in Brookfield Zoo’s Pachyderm House and can sometimes be seen outdoors on that building’s west side. (Smaller than the river hippo, the pygmy weighs between 350 and 600 pounds and can grow to about 5.75 feet long,)
Chicago’s warm (finally) weather this Memorial Day weekend is perfect for a day laughing at monkeyshines at two zoos or a pirate-ship sail along the city’s shoreline. (Zoo note: both zoos require masks at their indoor animal houses).
Visiting the 235 acre Brookfield Zoo can be an all-day family event.
Starting May 26, visitors can see the cute tapir calf just born to his mom, Sorghum. He has been staying indoors at the Pachyderm House but mom and baby might wander to their outdoor space on the north side of the building because the weather will be warm. Now is a good time to see the calf with his white stripes. The marking fade by age six months. The South American tapir is related to the horse and rhinoceros.
Beginning May 28, the Butterflies area, closed the past two years, has reopened and includes moths. Located near the North Gate, entry is $4 adults, $3.50 seniors 65 and older and $3 children. Visitors will be able to see the transformation to butterflies in an off-exhibit space.
While wandering the zoo, be on the lookout for such ice-age creatures as a 15 ft tall wooly mammoth and the 18 ft long mastodon. They are among Dino Dan’s 30 life-sized animatonic animals staying at the zoo April 1 through Oct. 30, 2022.
Brookfield Zoo entrances are at North Parking Lot 8400 31st St, and South Parking Lot 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways. Current hours: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
There are admission and parking costs. Tickets can be purchased ahead on line and are good for the entire day of entry. Adults $24.95, Seniors 65 and older $19.95, Children age 3-11 $17.95, age 2 and younger free. Parking is $15 and can be paid upon arrival.
*Visitors who have a general admission pass with a barcode, a member guest pass, a Chicago Public Library Museum Pass or a Museum Adventure Pass, can bring that to the zoo for entry, no reservation required.
At 49 acres, Lincoln Park Zoo is doable in half a day. Get a zoo map at the Visitor Center near the main entrance at 2400 N. Cannon Dr.
Time the visit to watch Seal Training at 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. near the main entrance . Then, be sure to visit the Pepper Family Wildlife Center.to see Pilipili, a recently born, African lion cub. His name means “pepper” in Swahili.
Lincoln Park Zoo is north of Chicago’s Magnificent (shopping) Mile.There are are several entrances with East gate near the paid parking lot being the main one. View the free parking map for all entrances. Current hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. The zoo is free and opened every day. For more information visit Lincoln Park Zoo.
Sail on Tall Ship Windy
For a different sailing experience, take a 75 minute trip along Chicago’s shoreline on Windy, a Tall Ship docked at Navy Pier. Listen to pirate and maritime stories.
Walking through Cezanne, an extensive exhibit now at the Art Institute of Chicago and co-curated with the Tate Modern in London, is like pulling back a curtain to really see and understand the French artist’s various approaches to portraitures, landscapes and figures.
Influenced by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne (1839–1906) was also admired by Pissarro, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
Indeed, “The Sea at L’Estaque Behind Trees” done by Cezanne, 1978-79 was owned by Picasso, and is in the Musee National Picasso-Paris collection on loan for this exhibit.
Works are on loan from several museums and private collections. Visitors should expect to spend close to two hours. The exhibit features 80 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings and two sketchbooks. Some will look familiar. Others will be less known and seldom viewed.
Beautifully curated, the exhibit places watercolors of the same or similar subjects close enough to compare. As with many artists, Cezanne’s works reflect different stages of life. Boards near each phase talk about those periods.
Called by some artists and art historians as the “Father of Post Impressionism,” Cezanne’s paintings are a bridge from Impressionism to Post Impressionism.
His early and middle years paintings also became his own bridge. Visitors who think they can identify a work as by Cezanne may be surprised . His “Still Life with Apples,” 1893-94 oil painting, is quite different from “Still Life with Knife and Watermelon” a watercolor done later, about 1900.
Cezanne’s still life paintings of apples and fruit could easily fill an exhibit on their own. But you will see a still life series of another subject, skulls. They were done in his later years.
Part of his appeal to other artists was how his feelings about a subject were expressed by his brush strokes.
“Cezanne pursued an art distinct from his Impressionist colleagues,” explained Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe.
“Whether looking at the countryside around Paris or at a still life arrangement indoors, his was a laborious process and state of mind that involved finding the exact brushstroke to evoke his feelings, his sensations. The exhibition aims to deepen our understanding of this deliberate, singular process,” said Groom.
By the time a visitor exits the exhibit there should be a feeling that some paintings seen in art galleries and art shows in the current century are not that different in technique from how Cezanne painted.
“While Cezanne himself was as interested in long traditions of painting as much as its modernist future, it’s simply not possible to envision twentieth-century avant-garde art without Cezanne’s influence,” said Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
“Cezanne approached painting as a technically rigorous yet deeply personal search for truth in art making. And in the process he upended the conventions of artifice in European painting, laying bare the components of color and brushwork used to compose images, and establishing the fundamentals of what would become Cubism, Fauvism, and non-objective art,” said Haskell.
(Note: If you go, get the Art Institute app (know your Apple store password) and go to the number accompanying some of the paintings to hear about Cezanne’s technique and aims. The museum hasn’t been using individual recorded devices since COVID began.)
The exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and Tate Modern, London. It is curated by Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator, Painting and Sculpture of Europe and Caitlin Haskell, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago and Natalia Sidlina, Curator, International Art, Tate Modern.
“Cezanne” is at the Art Institute of Chicago May 15 through Sept. 5, 2022. The museum has two entrances: 111 S Michigan Ave and 159 E. Monroe St. For more information including tickets and hours visit AIC.
Chicago and some area schools are on Spring Vacation through April 17. But even if your youngsters’ schools already had their break, terrific exhibits at Chicago’s museums are worth a weekend visit.
Fortunately, there are some free museums, free days and free to certain ages deals that can make a Spring Break outing less of a budget breaker. Most museum no longer require masks or vaccination proof but they do require advance tickets. However check the museum website for its current requirements.
For example of “free,” the National Museum of Mexican Art is always free. Located in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood at 1852 W. 19th St., the museum is currently featuring Freda Kahlo photos. But it is always filled with colorful and interesting galleries. Visit National Museum of Mexican Art for entry information. It is currently asking for masks and social distancing.
Also, the Illinois Holocaust Museum at 9603 Woods Dr., Skokie has a promo code “SPRING 22” that is good for free admission to children and students through April 17, 2022. The museum is also free to all the last Friday of each month.
Check out the following museums for more ideas and cost saving deals:
Chicago Museum Campus
After closing for two years due to covid, the Adler Planetarium at 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the east end of the Museum campus, recently reopened with more interactive exhibits and reconfigured spaces. The museum is free Wednesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. Among the fun, family-friendly spaces is the Clark Family Welcome Gallery with video presentations, interactive motion-sensing displays and pop-up exhibitions. Chicago’s Night Sky is also worth experiencing.
The Field Museum, at 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. at the front end of the campus, has its free admission days May 14-15 and discounts the Discovery and all Access Pass those days so cost to Illinois residents would be $16 adult and $14 ages 3-11. Known for its dinosaur halls, The Field has gone further by going underwater to find giant species in its new temporary exhibit, Jurassic Oceans: Monsters of the Deep. Up through Sept, 5, 2022, this special exhibit needs a Discovery Pass or All Access Pass but there is plenty to see with General Admission.
Shedd Aquarium, at 1200 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., sits in the center of the Museum campus. The museum had free days earlier in the year but if living in Chicago find reduced fares through the Chicago Public Library: Kids Museum Passport.
Hyde Park Neighborhood
Museum of Science and Industry at 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr. has free days coming April 21 and 25 and May 2, 4, 9, 17 and 18. MSI, as the museum is usually known, can fill a day without its special exhibits but it currently has the blockbuster Art of the Brick, an amazing sculpture collection of LEGO Art that is up through Sept. 5, 2022. An extra ticket is needed but the display is worth the cost.
The DuSable Museum of African American History at 740 E. 56th PL, is celebrating 61 years as the country’s oldest independent African American Museum currently has free admission for all every Wednesday. Masks are required for ages 5 and older. Among the exhibits are “Freedom: Origin and Journey” which looks at several key periods in African American history and South Side Stories such as “The Art and Influence of Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs, 1960–1980.” It looks at Burroughs’s “legacy as an artist, creator, activist and institution builder.”
Art Institute of Chicago, has a main entrances at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and around the corner at 159 W. Monroe St. to its Modern Wing (connected to the main building). It is free to Chicago teens under 18 and all youngsters under 14. Frequent AIC visitors have favorite galleries such as French Renaissance and the Thorne Rooms (miniature periods). The current exhibit is “Life and Afterlife in Egypt,” an impressive, recently re-done permanent display of items already held by the museum.
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. is free to visitors under age 18 and Illinois residents receive free admission every Tuesday. Visitors who enjoy debating what is art and what does it illustrate should see “Based on a True Story.” Using items mostly owned by the museum, it puts together the works of 20 artists who “play with fact, fiction, and the grey areas between” that “wrestle with truth and belief by exploring fiction.”
Lincoln Park Neighborhood
Chicago History Museum at 1601 N. Clark St. is on the edge of the park. Check out its “Crossroads of America” which includes stepping aboard a fancy, old train car. Also up is an exhibit of women’s voting struggles and items from the museum’s Costume Collection. The museum is free is Illinois teens under age 18 and all children under age 12.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum at 2430 N. Cannon Dr., is a Chicago Academy of Sciences museum that is also on the edge of the park. Come here to see, walk among and learn about butterflies. Exhibits also include climate change, weather and rivers.
Both Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos have upped the sparkle wattage with new light experiences. But with LED lights keeping cost down and ComEd on board as a co-sponsor for both holiday shows, what the popular destinations mention are estimates. Just expect more than one million lights.
In suburban Brookfield, IL wander among twinkling lights at Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic co-sponsored with ComEd by meijer.
The festival includes a new, two-mile Sea of Lights. But also take photos at a 41-foot-high magical tree and by an illuminated animal sculpture or as you approach the 600-foot Tunnel of Lights.
Just for fun, join in the Game of Gnomes to find 27 of these creatures at the zoo. Get a map of the zoo to help. All ages can play.
Zoo entry cost varies according to membership and age. As an example, rounded-off by five cents, a non-member senior 65 + may be about $20, an adult aged 12-64 is about $25 and a child age 3-11 is about $18. Skating rink usage is a $7 add on. Passes from a Chicago Library may discount the tickets. Parking may cost $15. Advance tickets needed.
Holiday Magic hours and dates: Friday through Sunday Nov. 26-28. Then Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 8-12 and Dec.15-19. They end Sunday through Friday. Dec. 26-31. Hours are 3 to 9 p.m. Animal residences stay open through 8:30 p.m.
Brookfield Zoo has two gates: 8400 31st St. and 3300 Golf Rd., Brookfield, IL
Zooights turned on its more than a million lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo Nov. 19, 2021 and will keep them on during select nights through Jan. 2, 2022.
Explore a twisting path at the Light Maze where you wear a pair of 3D Holospex® glasses to up the glow. Also, every age is welcome at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo section’s Enchanted Forest of butterflies, flowers and mushrooms.
See the zoo’s holiday tree at the recently redone Pepper Family Wildlife Center and do the Endangered Species Carousel and the Lionel Train Adventure through a sculpture garden and past whimsical animals.
Zoolioght entry is $5, free on Monday and Tuesday but there are additional charges of $3 per person at some of the sections and experiences. Advance tickets needed. Check the calendar for more program information.
The basic fee and extra charges help support the zoo’s animal care, global conservation efforts, and learning programs.
Many admirers of the art of photography are familiar with Ansel Adams’ remarkable shots of the US western landscape taken in the 1970s. Arguably less known or viewed in an exhibition are Adams’ prints from the 1920 through the 1950s.
Now, “Ansel Adams: Early Works” a traveling exhibit organized by art2artCirculating Exhibitions, LLC, and sponsored at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum by the Lake County Forest Preserves’ Preservation Foundation and Dan and Shirley Mayworm, opens a portal to the famed photographer’s interests, artistic development and his thoughts on his objectives. The works are from the collection of Michael Matts and Judith Hockberg.
Wander through the Dunn Museum, worth a trip on its own for its early Illinois history and objects, to see “Moonrise” which proved, as a video in the exhibit explains, that some, great photography moments are unplanned.
Read the plaques that accompany the exhibit for insight into some of Adams’ observations of photography’s power. Going through the exhibit then retracing ones steps brings out changes in his artistic and unique view of nature.
One plaque reads: “When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”
The show’s prints are part of Adams’ photo output. But to better understand the photographer don’t miss the plaques next to some of the photos. This one is next to Mount Brewer, Circa 1925, a vintage gelatin silver print.
“When I first made snapshots in and around Yosemite, I was casually making a visual diary – recording where I had been and what I had seen – and becoming intimate with the spirit of wild places. Gradually my photographs began to mean something in themselves; they became records of experiences as well as of places. People responded to them, and my interest in the creative potential of photography grew apace.”
Another plaque says that trees are not just trees. Look for a photo where the forest looks lacy then look for “Aspens” that is a study in design and contrast.
Dan Mayworm who worked with Adams for a few weeks includes some pointers in the exhibit that he gleaned from Adams including “Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.”