The Chicago History Museum and the Zoo

This weekend, we went to the Chicago History Museum to check out their Secret Lives of Objects exhibition. The exhibition is absolutely fantastic! I was blown away by it.

The exhibition is basically amazing and sometimes sad objects that the Chicago History Museum has in its collection. Each object tells its own story and how it relates to Chicago or sometime US history. For instance, they have the light that started Iroquois Fire. They have the glasses of Nathan F. Leopold, which were found at the scene of the crime and used to convict him and his partner of murder. Holy cow! They also have one of Charlie Chaplin’s canes, back when he filmed a movie at Essanay Studios in Uptown.

They also have Hinky Dink’s amazing star badge, which is just shiny. Many years ago I made a replica with foam, plastic jewels and a glue gun for the 2nd First Ward Ball. Those were the days. In terms of US history, the museum has the Wilmer Mclean’s table where the South signed their surrender. Yep, that’s there. The collection also includes the piano where the first gospel song was written. So tragic and beautiful. Quite an impressive collection of objects.

Hinky Dink's Badge

In addition to the exhibition, my favorite theater group in Chicago, Manual Cinema, created a series of short vignettes about various objects in the exhibition. Manual Cinema uses a combination of shadow puppetry and people to create evocative stories. What a splendid choice for the exhibition. They had about 10+ minutes of stories based around the piano, the printing press, the Iroquois Theater light, and so much more. Each story was delightful, poignant, and well worth checking out.

Here’s the website for more info:

After the exhibition, we checked out Access for All: Tom Olin’s Photographs of the Disability Rights Movement. The exhibition coincides with the 25th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act. Yes, that was in our lifetime, which is insane.  The photographs are very powerful. There’s one where people in wheelchairs are climbing up stairs to a government building. There’s another one where someone is being handcuffed and carried off by police. I’d seen them before at the Access Living building where I vote early. I’m glad to see these in the Chicago HIstory Museum because it’s important to commemorate this history and the men and women who fought to expand our rights. Also, it’s always a good thing to remind people that no rights are given.

After that, we went to check out the Vivian Maier exhibition, which I didn’t love. They have these rolls of film on the wall and then large photos of people in the center. It felt too overwhelming for me. I think they were trying to show as much as possible of her work given the space but it didn’t work for me. I think I would have prefered a more traditional presentation of a tiny selection of her work. But her photos are great so it’s worth checking out anyway.

After that, we decided to head to the zoo, one of my favorite places in Chicago. ON this trip, we discovered that not only does the zoo now have alpacas, they have kangaroos as well. When did that happen? We also got to see some of the gorillas outside for the first time. I’ve never had that happen before. Two of the gorillas were being mischievous; one even pounded his chest. We also got to see the tiniest gorrilla. So cute! We also saw the sea lions (I think) just laying out in the sun. Sea puppies!

Sea lion sunning!

Anyway, that’s all for now!

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