Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chicago Museums and Such

Last night the news said we should expect rain today and they were right. We woke up to a steady rain. We took our time getting up and ready and then headed down for breakfast. After eating we returned to the room and got our things. We decided that museums would be the best thing for a day like today. It was cloudy, a little cold and almost constant rain. So instead of walking we took a taxi to the Art Institute of Chicago. We got there a few minutes before it opened and had to wait out in the rain - luckily we had hoods on our jackets and we didn't get too wet. Once we paid and got our tickets and a map to the museum we found a place to sit and decide what we wanted to see first. It really wasn't a hard decision - Thomas and I both like the Impressionist. We ended up spending quite a bit of time in that area, but again we both like that art so we took the time to enjoy it. Then we spent a little time going through the European exhibits. Thomas wanted a break so we left the museum and found a restaurant across Michigan Ave. and had a bite to eat. We looked at the map of the museum to decide what we were going to do when we got back. The afternoon was spent mostly with the American painters. I was especially happy to see American Gothic and Nighthawks. We then just wandered around the museum and looked at a lot of decorative art from around the world. At about 3:00pm we decided to leave the museum. As we walked back to the hotel we took a short detour to the Chicago Cultural Center. This used to be the public library and the reason we were there was to see a glass dome they have. It is the largest Louis Comfort Tiffany art glass dome in the world. So we made our way up to the 3rd floor and the Preston Bradley Hall to see it. The dome is incredible and we were told it was valued at $35 million. The building itself is also pretty nice. There are mosaics everywhere and we felt like we had stepped back in time when we entered the place. We sat in Preston Bradley Hall and just stared at the mosaic work and dome for a good 20 minutes. We decided to call it a day and made our way back to the hotel. We skipped dinner tonight - neither one of us was hungry. I guess we need to decide what we are doing tomorrow.

This morning we woke up to completely opposite weather of yesterday. It was a beautiful day, a clear sky and lots of sunshine. After breakfast we walked down to Michigan Ave. to catch the #10 bus (this advice was given to us by the concierge at our hotel) to the Museum of Science and Industry. After waiting about 45 minutes we decided that the #10 bus wasn't going to come. We had asked about six other bus drivers and they all said that if it was on the sign it would be there. Thomas decided to call CTA and find out what we should do. After about ten minutes they told us it would be better if we headed to State St. and Wacker Dr. to catch the #6 bus which would drop us off a block from the museum. So we walked the four or five blocks and in less than 5 minutes we were on the bus to the museum. Once inside we went to the ticket counter and got general admission tickets and also decided to see the Harry Potter exhibit. This exhibit has props and clothing from all the movies even the soon to be released Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. You had to pick a time to see this exhibit because they try to limit how many people are inside at one time so that everyone has a chance to see everything so we decided to go right away. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I was surprised to see how small some of the actors really are. Seeing their costumes up close showed their true sizes. I was also impressed with the quality of the props - they weren't just thrown together - they were made really well. When you first enter the exhibit there is someone that gives an introduction and they also pick volunteers to do the sorting hat. Thomas got picked and when they put the hat on him it said that he was loyal and just and he was placed in Hufflepuff. Once we finished that exhibit we made our way back into the main part of the museum - the place is enormous - we sat down and looked at the map and decided which areas we wanted to visit. We opted for the following . . . Farm Tech, Wondrous Cold, Toymaker 3000, Transportation Gallery, Genetics and Coal Mine. By the time we finished all those we had enough of the museum.

So outside the museum we made our way around to the back and went for a walk on Wooded Island. The main purpose for this walk was to do a little letterboxing and you can read about that at A Bad Day and A Good Day. While walking we stopped at the Osaka Garden and relaxed in the peaceful atmosphere. After finishing the loop trail on the island we returned to the museum and looked at the map of the area. We decided to walk west and see Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House. We found the house easily and looked around the outside. Unfortunately the house is undergoing renovation and it is only opened on Saturdays for tours. After taking a couple of pictures we continued our walk west to the University of Chicago. We enjoyed our walk around the campus and loved the buildings - some very old and some with a modern touch - but all very enjoyable. The campus is beautiful and since it was a great day weatherwise the campus was full of activity with students sitting out in the open areas and people everywhere - we really had a great time. But as always, all good things must come to an end and we headed back to the museum to catch the #6 bus back to the Loop.

We got off the bus at Michigan and Madison and walked around for a bit. Like I said the weather was wonderful and we thought it would be nice to see some of the buildings and public art as we made our way to dinner and then back to the hotel. So we crossed the river on Michigan and stopped just on the north side at Pioneer Court. I wanted a picture of a public art piece called 'God Bless America' - it is a very large sculpture of Grant Wood's American Gothic. And since we had seen the painting at the Art Institute yesterday I thought it would be great to have this picture. While there I also took a picture of a very shiny metal moose. Then we continued north on Michigan, stopping next at Tribune Tower. They have embedded into their building rocks and stones from buildings all over the world - so I took pictures of all of them as we walked around the building. By this time we were hungry so we found a place to have a nice relaxing dinner. After eating we walked leisurely back to the hotel and called it a night. We have one more day in Chicago and we wanted to look at some information to decide what to do. And after seeing the weather report it looks like we could expect more rain, so we picked a variety of things so that we could have options.

1 comment :

John and Diane said...

I would love to go see that Frank Lloyd Wright house. When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in Chicago and we would go to the Museum of Science and Industry every year when we visited them. Very fun for a kid. I remember the coal mine was there back then, but it seems like there was always a wait to get in or something because I don't think we ever went in that part.