Hello, everyone! I was lucky enough to visit three amazing museums over the time frame of a week, so I thought I would cement some of my great memories and fill you all in on my experiences. Being a tourist was much more fun than I would like to admit, so let us begin!
First of all, I am currently enrolled in an astronomy course, and since our class was offered extra credit by going to The Adler Planetarium (and I wanted to revisit the museum anyway), some family members went along with me to the city. Our drive there was a bit hectic, but once I thought the chaos would be over and I could peacefully listen to “Chicago” and “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” by Sufjan Stevens while arriving at Museum Campus, we hit some traffic. One rash decision later, and we found ourselves in the car for about forty extra minutes. For added context, I was then able to listen to almost the entire Illinois album by Sufjan Stevens.
Eventually, we parked and power-walked over to The Adler Planetarium (I really had to go to the bathroom at this point). Once we went inside the side entrance at about 1:40 PM, we purchased our tickets, made a pit stop at the bathroom, and started to wander around. After quickly walking through the Our Solar System exhibit, I could not resist having pictures taken of myself outside. I know…I am terrible.
We then browsed through the other exhibits on that floor, such as Mission Moon, which I particularly enjoyed. I also bought an Adler Planetarium shirt at the gift shop, because I honestly cannot resist gift shops. Once we were done looking around that floor, we headed downstairs to check out the other fascinating exhibits, such as Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass and Chasing Eclipses. After what seemed like no time at all, we were done with the exhibits at the museum. Since I had not eaten lunch yet at that point, we visited Galileo’s Café, where I quickly ate plenty of cheese, crackers, grapes, and yogurt-covered pretzels before the area closed. I was not able to finish before being rushed out by my family members, though, as it had been decided that we were going to try to visit Shedd Aquarium before that museum closed for the day.
Now, you may be wondering why I did not offer much explanation of my visit to The Adler Planetarium. Well, it turns out that I wrote a bit about my visit after I was back home (since I thought I had to do so in order to receive extra credit), but I later found out that I did not need to do so. Subsequently, I thought I would share with you all what I would have turned in. Please excuse my odd writing, as I was basically trying to explain some information I learned and what my overall thoughts regarding my visit were.
On April 1, 2017, I visited Adler Planetarium and spent the afternoon there. Although I was able to recognize some of the facts that were presented throughout the exhibits, there was a large amount of new information that I learned from my visit. For example, in the Our Solar System exhibit, I learned about “dust devils” that can be found on Mars. It was stated on the sign that dust devils have been recorded or encountered through missions, and they even have cleaned off the Mars rovers by blowing off the dust on them. Dust devils occur when the ground is warmer than the atmosphere above it, which is due to the summer sun. Then, warm air can rise from the surface, spiral, and pick up sand & dust; they then can reach up to twelve miles high. Also, in the Our Solar System exhibit, meteorites are showcased, which I was able to look at. I previously was aware of the crater that is in Arizona, but to see a 1,015-pound nickel-iron meteorite that was part of the asteroid that made the impact was an amazing opportunity that almost seemed a bit unbelievable.
Another exhibit that I really enjoyed was Mission Moon. Particularly, I was fascinated by the artifacts in one section of the exhibit. For example, there was an Apollo 13 Lunar Surface EVA Helmet on display, which was what would have been worn by Captain Jim Lovell if the Moon’s surface would have been landed on. One item that really amazed me was an Apollo 13 Command Service Module Malfunction Manual, and its omission was what shocked me; the missing cover was actually part of what materials were used to keep the crew alive during the explosion on Apollo 13, since it could help remove carbon dioxide from the air. All of these and similar artifacts really put Captain Lovell’s story into perspective, and I could then feel more of a connection to his story and the importance of what was eventually accomplished.
Although I found all of the exhibits I was able to visit at the Adler Planetarium to be interesting and informative, one more favorite of mine was the new Chasing Eclipses exhibit. Since we have already learned about eclipses in class, I was already aware of the basics of solar eclipses, and I had also previously heard that there would be a total solar eclipse in North America on August 21, 2017, but this exhibit elaborated on solar eclipses for me. For instance, there was some stunning footage of a previous total solar eclipse, the likes of which I had never seen before, which really demonstrated how exciting and significant these events are. Also, there was a large map on the floor in one of the rooms that signified which areas of North America would see future total solar eclipses. From this map, I found out that the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse will be seen in Carbondale, IL; I will have to see if I can make my way there on that day. In that room, there were also some artifacts and pieces of information about how solar eclipses were learned about and tracked in the past. In addition to some instruments that were created to predict eclipses from between the sixteenth and eighteenth century, I was quite excited to see information in relation to Johannes Kepler. Kepler is the topic of my research paper, so seeing copies of Epitome Astronomiae from 1618 and its pages that related to solar and lunar eclipses after reading about the publication was rewarding. Some more information about how Kepler’s predictions and observations regarding a partial solar eclipse were momentous in his later studies regarding the Moon and optics was displayed, which was also interesting to see and read.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my visit to the Adler Planetarium, which was actually my first visit since I was in fourth grade. It was nice to see information that I had previously learned about in association with our class in a visual format, and the exhibits were also a great review of what was learned in past units. In addition, I was able to learn a bit more about specific topics, such as the information I mentioned before and of telescopes as well. I always enjoy going to museums, and I particularly love seeing artifacts; consequently, the Adler Planetarium’s exhibits and specific pieces that had historical value were of much interest to me. During my visit, though, I was on a bit of a tight schedule and arrived a bit later than I had hoped to, so I did not get to take as leisurely of a look as I would have liked to, and the renowned shows were already sold out. On future visits, I will do my best to watch the shows, and also compare what I see to the newer information I have learned from our class.
As I mentioned before, we were determined to visit Shedd Aquarium that afternoon as well, so we walked over to our next stop. (Yes, I know it is not really considered a museum, but for my purposes, I am classifying it as one.) The walk was gorgeous, and within ten minutes, we arrived at Shedd Aquarium. Of course, as the line to purchase tickets was still long at 3:35 PM, but we decided to brave it anyway. While my family members were in line, though, I ducked out for a bit so I could sit on a bench while finishing my food.
What happened next was quite exciting for us: We were taken over to a shorter line! As a result, it did not take long for us to purchase tickets, enter a huge elevator, and make our way up to the main floor. This visit was very short, as we were only inside for about forty minutes, but it was still great. I had not been there in many years, so it was fun to finally be back.
I had not prepared beforehand for this visit, so we basically just walked around all of the areas that General Admission guests could see. While doing so, I fell in love with many different types of fish, especially the tiny ones. (Clearly, I know a lot about aquatic life.) Also, I found that my time at Shedd Aquarium really made me appreciate ducks more; they are pretty fantastic.
Also, as a Disney Parks fan, I must note that I realized while walking through the exhibits that the experience of guests could be improved with just the addition of background music, such as the music played in The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot. (Feel free to check out the amazing music loop from when it was called The Living Seas, which I listened to after I arrived back home). Background music really does make a difference, my friends.
Anyway, I had a wonderful, albeit brief, Shedd Aquarium visit. Apparently there were important basketball games going on this particular evening, so we left at about 4:35 PM.
After taking some more pictures of the gorgeous skyline (and realizing that we should stop taking so many photographs), we made our way back to our car, and subsequently, back home. I made sure to take a picture of The Field Museum on our way out, though, since it would be my next museum visit.
Visits to Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium within four hours? We did that. It was amazing.
Due to my blogging magic, it is already a week later.
My college actually offered a field trip to the city, which included my beloved Field Museum, so of course, I signed up about a month beforehand. So, on this Saturday morning, I woke up early and prepared for my next museum visit.
There was no traffic on the way there, which was nice, and I was able to continue my tradition of listening to songs from Illinois by Sufjan Stevens while arriving in the city. Yay.
We entered The Field Museum through the group entrance, and then first walked through the Tattoo exhibit. I found it to be quite fascinating, especially as someone without much previous exposure to this art form.
After we exited this exhibit, we were essentially free to roam the rest of the museum for the next couple of hours. With a small group, I quickly browsed through some gift shops, and we then entered Stanley Field Hall. There was actually an orchestra playing in the area while we walked in, which made the reveal incredibly dramatic in the best way possible. Sue was waiting for us at the other end, so we walked by (while I remembered the episode of Full House in which Michelle knocked over a dinosaur skeleton), and then went directly to the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet exhibit upstairs. This exhibit was probably my favorite we visited; not only is it informative and home to mind-boggling artifacts, but I also appreciated how well-executed and extensive its layout is.
Of course, being who I am, while there were dinosaur fossils around me, I felt compelled to look through the windows at the Chicago skyline for a short while. I know…I am terrible.
Anyway, after we finished walking through the exhibit, we walked through the Grainger Hall of Gems. Even though I did not (and admittedly still do not) have much knowledge of gems, I still was able to gawk at the amazing pieces on display.
Next, we quickly walked through the Traveling the Pacific exhibit and Regenstein Halls of the Pacific, peered at the DNA Discovery Center, and took a bathroom break. I took a quick look at Sue’s actual skull and the amazing architecture of the area, and then walked downstairs with my group. The next exhibit we visited was Africa, which was a great look into the cultures in the continent. We then realized that we only had about forty-five minutes left to look through the museum, so I then advocated for a walk through the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit, since I loved learning about ancient Egypt last semester.
As expected, I was at awe while looking through the artifacts in the exhibit. I also thought this one was particularly well-designed, and I was so enthralled by it that I later found the others in my group waiting outside of the exit while I was still looking around. Oops.
Back upstairs and by Sue we went (hence the odd selfie), as we made our way to the Nature Walk exhibit. We walked all around this large area, which encapsulates birds, the wilderness, mammals, and more. By the time we exited this area, it was already about time to leave the museum, and thus, we went over to meet back up with our entire group.
The field trip was not yet over, though, since we still had lunch and a walking tour ahead of us. A quick drive to Pilsen was had, and we then walked over to have lunch at 5 Rabanitos, which was amazing. Our meal took us until about 2:45 PM to eat, and we then embarked on a walking tour of some of the murals in the neighborhood (while I carried leftovers with me, might I add). It was amazing to walk through the area and learn more about the beautiful statements that such murals are, and it was surely a great way to end our field trip.
Once 3:45 PM arrived, it was time to head back home. I listened to Pod Save America on the traffic-filled drive, as one does, and enjoyed the last moments of our adventure.
Alas, my museum extravaganza had come to an end. It was incredible to experience three spectacular museums within a week, and I hope to visit all three of them again, as there were many exhibits I was not able to view. I also hope that you all enjoyed reading about my time as a tourist, and feel free to let me know about your favorite museum experiences!