FIeld Museum: World’s Fair and More!

So now that I’ve thoroughly talked about my trip to China, it’s time to turn back to this amazing city of ours. Last weekend, we made it out to the Field Museum to check out the World’s Fair exhibit and the Machine Inside: Biomechanics exhibit. It was well worth the trip.

The World’s Fair exhibit covered the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. That’s the one with the White City. The exhibit was composed of many (if not solely) of objects that had been exhibited at the World’s Fair. The idea was to help viewers get a sense of what it was like to be a fairgoer. It was really neat to see these same objects that our counterparts in the 19th century would have seen. What I didn’t know was that the Field Museum was founded with the sole intention of displaying the objects of the Fair after it closed. It became a natural history museum much later. The exhibition divided the various objects in categories and explained their significance like fossils, taxidermied animals, botanical samples, and non-Western artifacts. They tried to explain what each of these categories meant to fairgoers. It was super exciting to see the leopard skin from the leopard that Carl Akeley killed. Carl Akeley was a famous taxidermist who apparently killed the leopard by PUNCHING IT IN THE FACE. What I didn’t realize was that the leopard didn’t die from the hit; it choked on his fist. So yeah. Carl Akeley is kinda a bad ass.

Leopard skin, Field Museum
Leopard skin, Field Museum
Skeleton, Field Museum
Skeleton, Field Museum

The exhibition also handled the less than sensitive treatment of non-Western peoples at the original fair. They talked about how it was problematic at the time and noted how the Field Museum tries to remedy these issue even in the present day. Very well done in my opinion. There were a variety of really amazing Javanese instruments. They even had a recording from the time of some of the instruments being played. It was a bit hard to hear but it was really sweet. There was also a touch screen table where you can choose instruments to try to play. Really liked the interactivity of it.

My biggest question that came from the fair is what happened to the dinosaur? There was a dinosaur skeleton that has appeared to have disappeared. I have the image of Sue and this other skeleton duking it out over dominance over the museum.

The Machine Inside: Biomechanics was also pretty nifty. The exhibition looks at the machine inside living creatures from plants to humans. I thought it was really engaging and thoughtful. I love learning about animals. They covered a lot of topics from jaw strength, flight, eyes, hearts, and much much more. The displays were well thought out and there was some great interactivity. I personally enjoyed playing with the “Build an Eye” display. You get to decide the shape of the eye and the type of lens and learn about what animals have that kind of eye.

I learned that toucans’ beaks are used to help them stay cool; it releases a lot of heat, which makes sense since they live in tropical locations. However, they have to cover their beaks with their wings while they sleep or they lose too much heat. Very neat. There was also a display talking about giraffe hearts and human hearts. Giraffes have twice the rate of blood pressure as humans. Human hearts pump about 1.3 gallons (I think of blood) a minute while a giraffe pumps like 16 gallons minute. My numbers aren’t exact but they are that dramatically different.

And we got to play with infrared versions of ourselves.

We also checked out a nice exhibit by a Native American artist named Bunky Echo-Hawk who is featured at the Field Museum. He is trying to reclaim Native American culture and art from cultural appropriation. It was very fascinating how he would counter popular notions of Native American culture. For instance, he had a very plain pair of brown shoes. The tag talked about how we have this notion that Native American shoes are richly beaded but that’s not realistic for working. Their everyday shoes are just as functional as anyone else’s. Various pieces of his works were showcased. He frequently uses gas masks in his work to bring to light how the US government intentionally infected tribes with radiation for experimental purposes. Very effective. It’s definitely worth a visit.

And we saw dinosaurs as always. Because dinosaurs are awesome.

That’s all for now!

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