Chicago Museum Goodness

July 12, 2005
travel illinois chicago

Amanda and I just got back last night from a long weekend trip up to Chicago. Headed up there Friday morning and hit the Shedd Aquarium, apparently oldest aquarium in the country (founded 75 years ago). Since we were planning on hitting lots of museums, we picked up “city passes” that include admission to a number of different sites in the area (if you see more than two of the six, I think you made out well). Pretty decent aquarium, but I could’ve done without the hoardes of screaming, ill-behaved, largely unsupervised ruffians running around… and their special crabs! exhibit was poorly designed in my opinion (layed out in a way that made it hard to see everything and designed with a number of choke points that made it difficult to navigate through the crowds). Always likes looking at the critters though.

On Saturday we hit the Field Museum, natural history type museum featuring everything from dinosaur bones (including a special traveling exhibit that included recently unearthed critters in China), ancient Egyptian artifacts, an impressive collection of stuffed critters, and even a room of gemstones and a variety of jade pieces. Found the dinosaur stuff pretty cool as well as parts of the Egypt exhibit. After the Field Museum, we hit the Adler Planetarium, another first in the country (also founded 75 years ago). Not nearly as impressive as the other two, but since it didn’t cost us anything beyond the base city pass price, I can’t complain too much.

Sunday we met up with Rachel and checked out the Art Institute of Chicago. Pretty cool stuff as always, and it was good to see Rachel as always. Lots of impressionist stuff that Amanda likes, and some pretty wild surrealist stuff that I sometimes like. Will have to see if I can’t remember the name of that Spanish surrealist that wasn’t Dalí and see if I can’t see some more of his work… (just did a quick googling and it’s Yves Tanguy).

Monday we wrapped up our trip with a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. I have to say, the museum wasn’t nearly as impressive as I remember it… granted a number of their demos/educationally interactive thingamajigs appeared to be in need of service (some marked as such, some just didn’t do anything when you poked them), and some weren’t done as well as one might have hoped or weren’t even remotely educational. Case in point the special video game exhibit was little more than a room set up as an arcade featuring a handful of classics as well as a range of console games. I was hoping for a bit more history and a bit less “ooh neat I can play the first version of Street Fighter.” There were a few highlights such as a DEC PDP-1 (one of the first “minis” if I remember correctly… basically a computer that wasn’t a mainframe requiring an entire room/building to house it). And of course the captured U-505 submarine. Over the past few years, they’ve apparently put a lot of work into restoring it to authentic/original condition and moved it indoors. Very well done exhibit.

Unfortunately all good things must come to and end, and by that I mean we’re back in CU and back at work… Hopefully I can get around to uploading some photos from the trip this evening.