Three experiences to try while waiting for Chicago to reopen

Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)
Lyric Opera House on North Wacker Drive (J Jphoto)

Some of us miss seeing a stage performance in person. Some miss going to the Lyric for a grand opera. Other folks miss visiting Chicago’s world class museums. The following opportunities hit these three targets while sitting at home.

Theater

Citadel Theatre has a unique experience scheduled for 6 p.m. May 21. Viewers register for what is called “The Defamation Experience.” It begins with a 70 minute film that is a one-act courtroom drama. Then there is the Deliberation. You and your fellow jury members deliberate the case on Zoom to decide the outcome.

After the deliberation and verdict, expert facilitators lead a brief post-show discussion.

Registration is free. A zoom meeting link is provided upon registration.

Opera

Hear and watch an opera segment, lecture or tour the Lyric Opera of Chicago building. The Lyric has a weekly newsletter available on its blog. Here is one aria, many audiences will find familiar.

“La donna è mobile” (“Woman is fickle”) is from the fall of 2017 performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto featuring Matthew Polenzani as The Duke. It comes in the third act where Maddalena (Zanda Švēde) flirts with the Duke.

For more Lyric gems visit LyricOpera/lately.

Museum

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been taking field trips to the city’s exceptional institutions so that the rest of us staying home can visit these places virtually.

Each field trip shows up on line on Wednesdays and then on PBS’ WTTW on Friday and replayed the following Monday.

This week she visits the National Museum of Mexican Art. To join her go to hitplayChicago. Founded in 1987, the museum is a very special cultural destination in the Pilsen neighborhood.

To see the last two field trips scroll down to the Shedd and the Field Museum.

Jodie Jacobs

Related: Dazzling voices seduced lyric audiences

 

 

Stay Home Hit Play takes a Field Museum field trip

 

Puttng together Maximo at the Field. (J Jacobs photo)
Puttng together Maximo at the Field. (J Jacobs photo)

 

With Chicago’s terrific destinations closed to foot traffic, families and anyone curious about what goes on at some of the city’s popular museums can take a virtual field trip thanks to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and HitPlay.

This week’s visit is to Sue, the T Rex, and other residents of the Field Museum. More on that later.

First stop was the Shedd Aquarium. The video, which went live a week ago Wednesday online and last Friday on WTTW (repeated Monday, May 4 on WTTW), started with a chuckle as viewers followed Wellington and his penguin friends into the aquarium.

Viewers then visit the Wild Reef, watch how zebra sharks line up at an unusual sort of feeding station where they touch their noses to a buoy to get their food. Then visitors see Wellington and meet a rescued green sea turtle at the Caribbean Reef.

You can see the Shedd Field Trip by clicking  Shedd/YouTube/Watch.

On May 6, the video took visitors to  the  Field Museum. Scroll down on the HitPlay website to the Field Museum video to visit dinosaurs, a new exhibit on the Apsáalooke people, and become better acquainted with the institution’s collection  of beetles and butterflies.

The video will be on WTTW Friday, May 8 and again on Monday, May 11, 2020.

Families who want to make something to go with the video can send it through social media with the hashtag #StayHomeHitPlay.

Jodie Jacobs

Related: Video series visits Shedd and other Chicago institutions

 

 

Where to find unusual gifts

One of a Kind gift show at theMart includes a good gourmet food and candy section. (J Jacobs photo)
One of a Kind gift show at theMart includes a good gourmet food and candy section. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Shopping the old fashioned way, leisurely browsing in person without worrying that the items will be gone by 8 a.m. or that the internet will be overloaded, can be a treat at museums and annual gift shows.

Listed here are two examples of excellent gift shows and really good, large  museum shops. They are likely to take a while to explore and are fun excursions while filling the gift list. Continue reading “Where to find unusual gifts”

Free museum days offer end of summer fun

 

Art Institute of chicago has a free family center and also has free hours Thursday evenings. (J Jacobs photo)
Art Institute of chicago has a free family center and also has free hours Thursday evenings. (J Jacobs photo)

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.

 

Art Institute of Chicago

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.

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Museum of Contemporary Art

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.

 

Chicago History Museum

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.

 

DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park. (Photo courtesy of DuSable Museum)
DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park. (Photo courtesy of DuSable Museum)

 

DuSable Museum of African American History

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.

For more information call (773) 947-0600 or see DuSable Museum/Visit.

 

The Field Museum

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.

 

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

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.

For more information call (312) 939-0490 ex. 28 or see Bridgehousemuseum/visit.

 

Wired to Wear is the new hit exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. (Photo credit to JB Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Wired to Wear is the new hit exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. (Photo credit to JB Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

 

Museum of Contemporary Photography

The museum is at at Columbia College Chicago, 600 S. Michigan Ave. near Harrison Street. It is always free but donations are welcomed. For more information call (312) 663-5554 or see MOCP/about.

 

Museum of Science and Industry

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.

For more information call  (773) 684-1414 or see MSIChicago/visit.

 

National Museum of Mexican Art

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.

 

Shedd Aquarium

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.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

Enter a ‘Lord of the Rings’ type bugs encounter

 

The Orchid Mantis is attractive and deadly. It is among the Field Museum's Fantastic Bug Encounters. (J Jacobs photo)
The Orchid Mantis is attractive and deadly. It is among the Field Museum’s Fantastic Bug Encounters. (J Jacobs photo)

 

You don’t have to be interested in entomology to enjoy and be fascinated by the new exhibit opened the end of June  at Chicago’s Field Museum. You are even likely to go home from the exhibit, called “Fantastic Bug Encounters!” with some interesting facts to pass along such as how one of the species, the jewel wasp, performs’ brain surgery” on cockroaches to turn them into zombies.

Meet the bees in their hive. (J Jacobs photo
Meet the bees in their hive. (J Jacobs photo

By the way, the word “fantastic” is a perfect description because the exhibition is on loan from New Zealand’s famed Te Papa Tongarewa museum where it developed the exhibition with the Academy Award-Winning Weta Workshop.

Think “Lord of the Rings” and you will walk in prepared for what you will encounter. The Weta Workshop produced sets, costumes, weapons, armour, and creatures for director Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. And Weta is the name of a giant, flightless prehistoric cricket group native to New Zealand.

So be warned, you walk into giant, pod-like homes of such real bug creatures as the Japanese honey bee and the jewel wasp. Take a selfie if you dare turn your back on one of them.

But for those visitors who would like to know more about the insects and some spiders, there are several interactive stations that tell about different creatures’ wing design, camouflage, speed, reflexes and superpowers.

Not all of insects will be dead. The exhibit includes a small Live Bug Zoo where a museum staffer will handle some of them so visitors can see them up close.

A Field Museum staffer holds a patent leather beetle for visitors from the Chicago Park district to see. (J Jacobs photo)
A Field Museum staffer holds a patent leather beetle for visitors from the Chicago Park district to see. (J Jacobs photo)

These encounters are on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a patent leather beetle, a lubber grasshopper, a death feigning beetle and a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Plus, there are some live bugs in glass enclosures to see and not touch such as the emperor scorpion, a stick mantis and a pink-toed tarantula.

“Bugs are weird, beautiful, and fascinating creatures, and we’re proud to be able to share them with visitors of all ages in Fantastic Bug Encounters!” said Jaap Hoogstraten, Field Museum Exhibitions Director. “This exhibition is full of gorgeous larger-than-life models that show what these animals look like close-up and how they’ve perfectly adapted to the world around them—our visitors will never look at bugs the same way again.”

DETAILS: Fantastic Bug Encounters!” is at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, on Chicago’s museum campus near Soldier Field, Chicago now through April 19, 2020. For hours and ticket information call (312) 922.9410 and visit Field Museum.

Jodie Jacobs

Where to go for a fun and interesting spring break day

© Isak Pretorius, South Africa 2017 photo. A Wildlife photographer of the year winner (Photo courtesy of Field Museum)
© Isak Pretorius, South Africa 2017 photo. A Wildlife Photographer of the Year winner (Photo courtesy of Field Museum)

We often put a place on the “some day” go-to list. But with school’s Spring Vacation days to fill, that chance is now.

The four places suggested here have something new to see or have something that is fun in addition to their regular attractions.

 

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

You probably know the museum has more than 1,000 butterflies flitting around its Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. But it also has an indoor tree house and visitors can roam from tree to tree to see what lives in a forest canopy.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for butterflies, tree houses and the Thomas D. Mangelsen photography exhibit. (Photo courtesy of the Nature Museum)
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for butterflies, tree houses and the Thomas D. Mangelsen photography exhibit. (Photo courtesy of the Nature Museum)

However, Spring Break is also a great time to visit because the “Thomas D. Mangelsen-A Life in the Wild” photography exhibit is there. The exhibit includes his famous photo of a bear catching a fish. Photography buffs will also want to catch Mangelsen’s lecture and book signing of “The Last Great Wild Places,” March 19 at 2 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. (reservations needed).

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is at 2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago.  Hours: Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-5p.m., Sat-Sun 10 a,m,-5 p.m. For more information  call (773) 755-510 and visit Nature Museum.

 

 

At 'Sensing Chicago' young visitors can become a Chicago-style hot dog. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)
At ‘Sensing Chicago’ young visitors can become a Chicago-style hot dog. (Photo courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

Chicago History Museum

Youngsters can see, feel, hear and smell bits of the city’s history in ‘Sensing Chicago,” They will get their own toolkit to go around the exhibit where they can ID a Chicago item such as chocolate  or the Great Chicago Fire, by its smell and sit in a stadium seat to activate a baseball clip. They can pretend to fly over the city or pretend to be a Chicago-style hot dog.

However, an exhibit coming April 8, 2019, “Silver Screen to Mainstream: American Fashion in the 1930s and ‘40s,” will look at Hollywood’s glamour influence on American styles after 1929 on catalogues, home-made clothes, man-made materials and the use of the newly invented zipper.

The Chicago History Museum is at 1601 N. Clark St.,Chicago. Hours: Mon. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Tues. 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Wed.-Sat. 9:30a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. For more information call (312) 642-4600 and visit Chicago History.

 

Putting together Maximo the Titanosaurin the Field Museum. (J Jacobs photo)
Putting together Maximo the Titanosaur in the Field Museum. (J Jacobs photo)

Field Museum

Go upstairs in the Field to see where SUE now resides among other interesting, ancient skeletons and fossils.  SUE, who used to be in the Great Hall on the main floor, is  a 40-foot-long and 90-percent-complete Tyrannosaurus rex.

And go what feels like descending into an Egyptian tomb. It is replica of a mastaba that has two chamber rooms from the burial site of 5th Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Unis’s son Unis-Ankh, dating to 2400 BC. See one of the largest collections of mummies in the United States.

However, a fascinating new exhibit, “Wildlife Photographer of the Year,” features the winners from several years. (See Isak Pretorius photo at top) They bring visitors up close and personal to wild animals and other amazing nature pictures. The exhibit opens March 22,2019.

(Ed Note: Exhibitions Project Manager Janet Hong pointed out something that is also true of the Mangelsen exhibit at the Peggy Notebaert Museum. “Sometimes, the animal in the photo is the protagonist —you identify with that animal and its story. But the hero of a photograph can also be its photographer,” Hong said. “It takes perseverance to get a great shot. Understanding an animal’s behavior can mean tracking it for days and a great visual composition often comes from deep knowledge of a place or plant or animal.”)

The Field Museum is at 1400 S.Lake Shore Dr. on Chicago’s Museum Campus. Hours: 9 a.m,.-5 p.m. daily For more information call (312) 922-9410 and visit Field Museum.

 

Art Institute of Chicago is a popular destination for tourists and residents. (J Jacobs photo)
Art Institute of Chicago is a popular destination for tourists and residents. (J Jacobs photo)

Art Institute of Chicago

Visit paintings that are old friends and wander to make new friends. Go down to the Thorne Miniature Rooms to see 68 European and American interiors. Visit the Artist’s Studio to see what family programs are taking place.

However, “Rembrandt Portraits,” opened March 8, goes through June 9, 2019  in Gallery 213. It’s an interesting analysis of what went into doing a portrait.

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and open until 8 p.m. Thursday. For more information call (312) 443-3600 and visit ARTIC.

 

 

Five things to do Presidents’ Day weekend

 

The Weyard Sisters (Caitlan Taylor, Caroline Chu, and Emma Ladji) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Short Shakespeare! Macbeth. (Liz Loren photo)
The Weyard Sisters (Caitlan Taylor, Caroline Chu, and Emma Ladji) in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Short Shakespeare! Macbeth. (Liz Loren photo)

Saturday

Shortened Shakespeare

See the 75 minute “Short Shakespeare! Macbeth” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Saturday at 11:00 a.m., Feb. 16. It will continue Saturdays through March 16, 2019. Chicago Shakespeare Theater is on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. For tickets and more information visit ChicagoShakes/Macbeth.

 

Seussical: The Musical

Dr. Seuss’ creative genius is on stage at the  Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. The show continues through March 31, 2019. The theatre is at 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire. Created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (the Tony Award-winning team behind the acclaimed musicals Ragtime and Once on this Island), the production combines more than 14 Dr. Seuss stories. For tickets or more information call (847) 634-0200 or visit Marriott Theatre

 

Orchid in Chicago Botanic Garden Greenhouse. (photo by J Jacobs)
Orchid in Chicago Botanic Garden Greenhouse. (photo by J Jacobs)

Sunday

Orchids at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Warm up with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s annual Orchid Show, called “The Tropics” this year. The show is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For tickets and other information visit Chicago Botanic.

 

Monday 

Story Time

Chicago Botanic Garden holds Story Time for ages 2 to 5 on Mondays through March 25, 2019, including Presidents’ Day March18. Story Time goes from 10 to 11 a.m. in Lenhardt Library. Afterwards, get a bingo card to go find objecgts in the garden and greenhouses. No drop offs.A caregiver must be present.  The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, just east of the Edens Expressway. For more information visit Chicago Botanic or Story Time.

 

 

Hall leading to the Grainger Theater has fascinating space images. (J Jacobs photo taken of one of the hall's images)
Hall leading to the Grainger Theater has fascinating space images. (J Jacobs photo taken of one of the hall’s images)

Chicago Museum Campus

Go to the Chicago Museum Campus. All three of the museums on the Campus, the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, have free general admission for Illinois residents on Feb. 18, 2019. (Free days’ general admission does not include special exhibits and shows.)

 

Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium is at the far east end of the Museum Campus at 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr. General admission is free to Illinois residents Feb. 18-21. For more information on what to see and admissions visit Adler Planetarium .

 

The Field Museum

At the Field, all of February is free to Illinois residents. There is a lot to see that does not require a special exhibit ticket. The Field is at 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. at the west end of the campus. For more information visit Field Free.

 

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd is in the middle of the Museum Campus at 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr Free admission for Illinois residents is Feb. 18-22. For more information visit Shedd Free Days.

 

Jodie Jacobs

 

 

 

 

Fun Museum exhibits for summer vacation

 

Find out about how the characters, objects and scenery are created in Pixar movies. (Jodie Jacobs photos)
Find out about how the characters, objects and scenery are created in Pixar movies. (Jodie Jacobs photos except from the MCA)

It’s no accident that Chicago’s museums plan fun exhibits to open right when youngsters are out of school and tourists jam downtown streets.

Recent fruitful pop-ins at a few of the city’s museum’s revealed the following summer bucket list of exhibits. They either just opened or will do so soon. Go because they are perfect for kids or go to satisfy your own curiosity..

A fascinating, hands-on exploration of the “The Science Behind Pixar” used in “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” opened May 24 at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Shedd Aquarium’s stunning “Underwater Beauty” exhibit that opened May 25 shows off the colors, patterns and movements of more than 100 species.

The Field Museum’s eye-opening “Antarctic Dinosaurs” opened June 15 and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s insightful “I Was Raised on the Internet” opens June 23.

Continue reading “Fun Museum exhibits for summer vacation”

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

 

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.