More Museums!

November 18, 2011 at 11:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough (or at all), you know I’ve got a bit of a thing for museums.  I spend a lot of time in the various ones in this city and the course I’m almost finished with allows me to explore museums I might not otherwise make it to on my own.  Last week I went to two such places and I feel they deserve a bit of praise on the old blog space:

The Chicago Childrens Museum(please note that Children’s has the apostrophe but for whatever reason the linking mechanism on this blog puts in extra funny characters if I try to include it as I should) is located at Navy Pier and one of the first children’s museums in the nation.  This place is geared towards kids and adults of all ages and it’s a very hands on and interactive space that allows children to run around and explore to their heart’s content.  I went here with my Museum Studies class and we met with one of the educators, who gave us an interesting talk about the mechanics behind running such a place.  Then we were able to get out and play for ourselves, which was just plain awesome.  Who wouldn’t appreciate not having to wait in a line of rug rats to play with a mock fire engine or climb a two-story rope ladder?  And yes, of course yours truly did both.

Not me, but I totally did this. And I learned it's not really designed with someone with birthing hips such as my own.

I also explored an area made to teach children about the dangers of fire; a small room full of even smaller collections of toys, books, pictures, monkey statues (!), marbles and other curiosities; a space set up to replicate an archeological dig where you could find casts of real dinosaur bones; a huge water play area that works with gravity and physics to soak the participants; an area designed to teach about the various modes of transportation, especially in Chicago and a whole other room that allowed people to design and erect their very own skyscrapers from various building materials.  And this was just what I was able to explore in the 30 minute window we were given.  I have some friends with small children who frequent this place and I can see why and for those that have kids but haven’t been, I’d recommend it.  You can go without taking a child but since children are like tiny drunk adults, I can imagine that being surrounded by a bunch that aren’t your own wouldn’t make for a very pleasant museum experience.  But to each their own.

A few days later, I meandered into the Swedish American Museum  in Andersonville, the neighborhood next door to my own.  Andersonville houses the largest population of Swedish-Americans in the United States and was a very popular place for immigrants to relocate in the 1800’s.  Of course, I didn’t know any of this before checking out the museum but I learned all kinds of things about how and why Swedes made their way to the States and what they did once they arrived.  I also some furniture from the 19th century that really shows the concepts behind IKEA today – for instance, a wooden bench that folds up into a single chair and a couch that pulled out into a daybed.


There was a children’s portion to this museum as well that really let kids get hands on with the idea of immigration.  There were exhibits that showed how everyone worked the farms and they let kids use plastic crops to try to understand what it was like for the immigrants.  There was also a wooden boat set up and while I was there I saw a couple little girls running around and shouting about how they were “going back in time to Sweden”, so obviously the goal behind the exhibits was working.  It’s a super cool little local museum and you can’t really beat the $4 admission fee.

On a completely unrelated note, this is the second anniversary of the start of this blog.  Can you believe it’s been that long?  Yeah, me neither.  This was my one year re-cap and I’m obviously too lazy and full of museum knowledge to do such a thing today.  Sure, some things have changed from the inception of this blog (most notable is the loss of my Catsby…I’ll get around to writing her a memorial post when I’m ready) but some things have stayed the same.  I’m glad I’ve done this whole blog thing because it’s a nice way to look back and reminisce…plus, I’m obviously a hilariously entertaining writer with many great stories to share.  I’m also (clearly) incredibly modest and humble.  Anyway, thanks to everyone (anyone?) who has been along for the ride!

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