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.
See an in-person exhibit on Nelson Mandela, Women in the Military, Monet or Marvel Comics.
As the number of COVID cases go down Chicago’s museums have begun inviting visitors back, enticing them with special exhibits.
Safety protocols will be followed including timed tickets and, of course, wearing masks. As an old, once popular ad said, “Don’t leave home without it.”
The Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum opened in January. The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Lake County Dunn Museum are opening in February and the Museum of Science and Industry opens in March.
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
The museum welcomed the public back with free admission on Feb. 3, 2021 and will continue to offer free admission on Wednesday through March. Hours are 9 a.m. -5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday but tickets must be purchased online ahead of time. See safety procedures.
Current main special exhibition is “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” up until about Feb. 20, 2021.
Upcoming special exhibit is “Mandela’s Struggle for Freedom” opening Feb. 20.
The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave. and 159 E. Monroe (Modern Wing).
Bess Bower Dunn Museum
The museum, a Lake County Forest Preserves property, reopens Feb. 13 with online, timed tickets.
“Modifications have been made throughout the galleries and gift shop to minimize touch points and support social distancing,” said Director of Education Nan Buckardt.
Along with displays of Lake County history and artifacts, the museum is currently celebrating Black History Month. Its special exhibit, “Breaking Barriers: Women in the Military,” will be up through June 13, 2021.
Modified hours are 10 am to 3:30 pm, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with visitation time slots available from 10–11:30 am, 12–1:30 pm, and 2–3:30 pm. The galleries and gift shop will be closed between these time slots for cleaning and disinfecting.
The museum will be open on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb.15 and then will resume its regular schedule.
“We look forward to welcoming visitors back again to the Dunn Museum,” said Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves. “Our priority remains to create a safe environment and provide peace of mind for all our visitors and staff while connecting them with Lake County history and culture.”
For tickets, safety protocols and other information visit Bess Bower Dunn Museum. The museum is at 1899 W. Winchester Rd., Libertyville, (847) 367 6640.
Museum Of Science and Industry
MSI as Chicagoans call the museum, will reopen with the premiere of “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes,” when it welcomes members on March 4 and the public on March 7.
A major exhibit, the ” Marvel Universe” will contain more than 300 items ranging from sculptures, interactive displays and costumes to props from Marvel films and original comic book pages.
After opening weekend, MSI will be open Wed -Sun from 9:30 a.m. to 4.p.m. For tickets, protocols, hours and other information visit MSI status.
The Museum of Science and Industry is at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive.
John D. of Standard Oil Co. fame and son, John D. “Junior” of Rockefeller Center note, are the philanthropists and personages who often come to mind when the name Rockefeller is said.
But mention Edith, daughter of John D. Senior, and the reaction is likely to elicit a blank. However, Edith who grew up in a household that only favored the male side in education and business, is worth knowing.
In her recently published book, Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick, Andrea Friederici Ross uncovers a woman who in spite of lack of family support and appreciation, learned several languages so she could study philosophy and psychiatry as originally written. She passed along the teachings of Carl Jung.
Edith became a patron of the arts with husband Harold McCormick (son of Cyrus McCormick) that included the Chicago Grand Opera, a company that predated the Lyric. She was also instrumental in forming the Krenn & Dato real estate company and founding Brookfield Zoo.
It was the Brookfield property that started Ross on her “Edith” journey about 10 years ago.
“I became interested in Edith when I wrote Brookfield Zoo’s history book Let the Lions Roar, because she donated the land that started the zoo. In fact, the first line of that book is “An unusual woman made Brookfield Zoo possible,” Ross said during an email-interview.
“Unusual woman” is only a hint to whom readers will meet in the book. It is filled with family members and recipients of her patronage who have their own views of Edith and her spending. She acquired costly jewels and antiques but was also interested in affordable housing for young, first-time home buyers.
Readers may well believe some of her actions are the result of what is considered expected of a wealthy woman. The book reveals Edith’s and her family’s ideas on women’s and men’s places in society that may explain the neuroses that plagued her and other family members.
When asked about indications of Edith’s inner feelings when researching her subject’s life and times, Ross said, “For Edith, duty was front and foremost. Whereas in her childhood it was duty to God and parents, Edith later internalized that to be duty to society (entertaining, spending, employing, underwriting). I, personally, do not believe she ever allowed herself to fully experience her emotions.”
The book mentions that Edith believed she was part of King Tut’s life in an earlier incarnation. After reading Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick, I wonder what or whom she would like to be if she could come back during the 2020s when women appear to be doing better in the gender-discrimination battle.
Some Chicago Edith connections
North of Chicago lies an upscale Lake Forest, IL subdivision known as Villa Turicum. The entry street off Sheridan Road is McCormick Drive. A short way in is Rockefeller Road. Villa Turicum was the 300-acre Italianate summer estate of Edith Rockefeller McCormick.
Nearby is an approximately 200 acre Highland Park, IL neighborhood north of IL Rte 22 known as the Highlands where there are Krenn and Dato Avenues. Edith’s longtime friend, Edwin Krenn, and Edward Dato, formed Krenn & Dato, a highly successful, nationally known real estate business backed by Edith until it over expanded.
Edith: The Rogue Rockefeller McCormick by Andrea Friederici Ross, (Southern Illinois University Press, 2020, $29.95).
Often called MLK Day, the third Monday of January has been officially observed to honor the civil rights leader in all 50 states since 2000. It is an American federal holiday so schools, banks, and some business are closed.
The day has become a chance to honor Martin Luther King Jr with service projects, free museum visits and special programs. Here are some of the events and places to spend quality time on MLK Day this year, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.
Performance of “The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights”
Glencoe-based Writers Theatre holds annual performances of “the MLK Project.” Written by Yolanda Androzzo, directed by Sophiyaa Nayarand featuring Adhana Reid, “The Fight for Civil Rights” production will be held Jan. 20, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N Clark Street in Chicago. The event is free and includes a post-show community discussion. Attendees also have free museum admission for the whole day. Folr more information visit Writers Theatre/Education.
The Writers Theatre production is a tour that goes to schools and community centers then closes at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, 7 p.m. Feb. 28, 2020. The performance is free and can be reserved in advance by calling (773) 947-0600.
The Adler Planetarium at the far eastern end of the Museum Campus at 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., has one of its free General Admission days for Illinois residents on Jan. 20, 2020. It is also an Illinois Resident Discount Day which means that tickets to other exhibits and shows not included in General Admission can be obtained at discount prices. For more information call (312) 922-7827 or visit Adler Planetarium/special offers.
The Shedd Aquarium, located in the middle of the Museum Campus at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., has a similar arrangement for MLK Day. There is free general admission and discounts for special exhibit and shows for Illinois residents. For more information call (312) 939-2438 or visit Shedd Aquarium/discount and free days.
The Field Museum, sitting at the entrance to the Museum Campus at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., also has one of its free general admission days on Jan. 20, 2020. As part of the Illinois Resident Discount Days, passes to special exhibits are available at lower prices. For more information call (312) 922.9410 or visit Field Museum/free admission days.
Free Museum of Science and Industry admission.
MSI, south of downtown near Hyde Park neighborhood at 57oo s. Lake Shore Dr., has an Illinois Resident Free Day Jan. 20, 2020 so general admission is free plus special exhibits can be seen at discounted prices. For more information visit MSI tickets.
(See other free general admission and discount days at each museum link listed. The free days are for Illinois residents so valid ID is needed. Also check for other categories such as active military and education personnel.)
Martin Luther King Day of Service
Some communities have projects planned for MLK Day. North suburban Highland Park is holding its 11th annual Day of Service 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 20, 2020 at the Recreaction Center of Highland Park, 1207 Park Ave West, just east of IL Hwy 41. The projects will help area agencies. For more information visit Park District of Highland Park/MLK.
There still are a few days left to explore the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and some of Chicago’s other world-class museums without dipping into fall school supply funds.
Some museums are always free. Others have free admission on certain days or hours of the week. But check what is available with free admission because at some museums general admission is free but there still are ticketed exhibits. A valid ID with proof of residency is needed. if the free day is for Illinois residents or Chicago youth.
Children under age 14 always admitted free. Chicago teens under age 18 are also admitted free. In addition, admission is free to Illinois residents on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. The Ryan Learning Center near the Modern Wing entrance is always free to families and children’s care givers.
The main entrance is at 111 S. Michigan Ave. but there is also an entrance around the corner at the museum’s Modern Wing, 159 E. Monroe St. For hours and more information call (312) 443-3600 or see artic/visit.
The museum is at 220 E. Chicago Ave. just east of Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. Admission is free for youth 18 and younger every day and for Illinois residents on Tuesdays. For hours and more information call (312) 289-2660 or see MCAChicago/visit.
The museum is free to Illinois residents Tuesdays from 12:30 to 9 p.m. and always free to Illinois youth under age 18. Located at 1601 N Clark St., the museum is on the edge of Lincoln Park. For more information call (312) 642-4600 or see ChicagoHistory/visit.
Located at 740 E. 56th Place in Washington Park at 57th and cottage Grove, the museum’s exhibits feature augmented reality when tied to an app that can be easily downloaded. Admission is free every Tuesday.
The museum is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive at the west end of Chicago’s Museum Campus. It has free basic admission for Illinois residents on Wednesdays from Aug. 14 to Nov. 13, 2019.
Go to FieldMuseum/exhibitions then click on the individual exhibits to see which ones are included in basic admission or needs an All Access or Discover Pass. For more information call (312) 922-9410 or see Field Museum/visit.
Think of this museum as an iceberg with much of what there is to see below the Michigan Avenue and Upper Wacker Drive level. It is inside the Southwest Bridgetower but entry is down at river level at 99 Chicago Riverwalk at the northwest corner of Michigan and Wacker. Sundays are free. Visitors learn about the historic structure, the river’s bridges and the Chicago River.
Located at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive in a building from the 1893 Columbian Expostion, MSI is among the world’s largest science museums so there is plenty to see on free general admission days for Illinois residents even though they don’t include the ticketed exhibits. Coming free days are Aug. 26-28, 2019.
The museum is at 1852 W 19th St, in the Pilsen neighborhood, south west of downtown Chicago. Admission is free, daily. For hours and more information call (312) 738-1503 or see National MuseumofMexicanArt/faqs.
The Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, is the second building on Chicago’s Museum Campus. Lines are long any day but particularly on free days so go early. Capacity is limited so some people reserve their tickets on line for a $3 transaction fee. Illinois resident free days are Aug. 26-28, 2019.
Illinois residents get access to all exhibits, chats, presentations and Stingray Touch. For more information call (312) 939-2438 or see Shedd/visit.
Heads up “Hamilton” lovers and anyone interested in Alexander Hamilton’s life.
“Hamilton: The Exhibition” (also called “Ham”), situated in an all-weather structure on Northerly Island, opens April 27. The island stretches south of the Museum Campus just west of the Adler Planetarium. The exhibition is at 1536 S. Linn White Drive.
“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates the audio tour with the musical’s original Broadway actors, Phillipa Soo (Eliza Schuyler) and Christopher Jackson (George Washington).
Go to learn more about Hamilton’s early years and the start up of the United States of America through multi-media and historical artifacts that take visitors to St. Croix, New York of 1776 and George Washington’s war tent.
The atmosphere inside the PrivateBank Theatre was electric March 15 as hundreds of Chicago high school students filed in to watch their peers perform on the “Hamilton” stage.
It was the third of what would be 10 student performances during 2017.
By the end of a special education program tying “Hamilton’” to their American History studies, 20,000 Chicago high school students will have seen their peers perform in the morning followed by a regular Hamilton matinee.
Listen up if looking for a weekend activity that won’t empty the pocketbook. Think outer space, mummies or A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat’s famed painting. With the apple picking season beginning to wind down, the coming weekends are a good time to visit one of Chicago’s world class museums whether interested in art, history or science. Fortunately, free and Illinois discount days offset the necessary fees the museums have to charge to make up for cuts in state and other government subsidies. Here are six free and discounted museum ideas.