Back from Chicago with two museum visits. First, a Sunday trip to the Museum of Science + Industry. I didn’t pre-book my tickets online, my usual MO, and the line to buy tickets from personnel at counters was jammed with a wait of 45-60 minutes, winding through the ubiquitous post stanchions and retractable belt barriers. I noticed a bank of automatic ticket dispensers directly across the main hall. Despite museum aides beckoning to visitors, that line held fewer than a dozen people and I had my tickets in hand in five minutes. The ticket machines were touchscreen, simple to operate, easy to understand and, dare I say it, foolproof. I’ll keep an eye out for that alternative in other museums.
Christmas holiday plus kid-centric museum equals massive squealing crowds, but they go where they are pointed. I used one of my favorite strategies, starting on the third floor and working my way down. Bypassing the obvious entry point bought us a good two hours of relatively uncrowded museum-going pleasure. Suspended at the third floor eye level, aircraft – from the Wright Flyer, to a German Stuka, to a United 727 – celebrated the audacity of humans taking to the air. Displays of vintage scientific instruments were captivating; gleaming, elegant, and sleek.
My favorite exhibition was 80 at 80. http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/80-at-80/ I was mesmerized by the quirky video installation: Maarten Baas’ “Sweepers Clock” that shows men keeping time by sweeping garbage laid out in the shape of clock hands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXNT4T56EmM
The best (cleanest, functioning, and no lines) women’s restroom was just off the submarine exhibit. The worst (crowded, dirty, many out-of-order stalls) was on the main floor off the food court. Avoiding the Disney ‘exhibit’ and touring the submarine U-boat was another useful strategy. The U-boat, also a designated war memorial, was well presented with sound/light enhancements and an excellent guide. Fascinating.
I sadly underestimated how long I’d want to gaze at the treasure trove that is the Art Institute of Chicago. Five hours went by in a blink. A single exhibit of Italian drawings kept me enthralled for the first two hours. http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/strokes-genius-italian-drawings-goldman-collection
Met Robert for our traditional Terzo Piano lunch, then sprinted back, aware of time running out. I dashed through European paintings and sculpture, keeping an eye out for boxes, reliquaries, and anything made of terracotta and porcelain, in every room I ventured through.
If I am honest, I was offended by the artist using stock news photos of people falling to their death, indifferent to the focus: Lucy McKenzie, and wished there was more to the Ethel Stein, Master Weaver exhibit.
Back to the drawings, where I spent my remaining time sketching a kneeling slave, a bearded saint, and this enchanting boy, the son of the artist.