Field Museum of Natural History, Lake Shore Drive: South - INTERIORS
Field Museum: Stanley Field Hall - Museum Campus
Towering ceilings glide above your head, the 15 foot tall corridor and extravagant expanse of beauty. Lush trees occupy much of the center of the room, though near the North Entrance is perhaps the most enjoyed of all attractions here at the Field Museum: Sue. The majestic and terrifying Tyrannosaurus is perhaps the best known resident of Chicago. Her structure takes up most of the Northern end of the Mail Stanley Field Hall, the beauty and wonder of her skeleton so intense you almost feel as if you could reach out and touch Sue and her turn her head to you in inquiry.
Field Museum: African Hall - Museum Campus
The sky is painted on the ceiling, the walls filled with the broad sweeping vista of the Savannah, the startling trompe l'oiel transporting all who enter into the windswept plains of Africa, faux banyan trees marking off this jungle clearing on the edge of the painted plain.
Rhinos graze to one side, a heard of zebra along another wall with a collection of Savannah Lions gazing on from the distance, both of these visible through windowed openings in the walls. Scattered about the room is a primitive African village, collections of tableaus of natives performing everyday activities with the artifacts of tribal life on display here.
Aztecan Mummy: An expert might call this particular Aztec mummy a beautiful example of ancient embalming techniques. The mummy's faded and aged bandages are covered in Aztecan glyphs, depicting, perhaps, it's importance in life. Of course, to partake in the decorative art, one would have to get past the jerky of a corpse, with dead, shriveled eyes staring off into the world.
The body is kept in a glass display case, open on all sides, to allow for public view, yet to keep it safe and preserved from both curious hands, and open air.
Field Museum: American Indian Exhibit - Museum Campus
Sprawling vistas await here, dense forest giving way to dry deserts leading to a mountainous pass beyond which lies a harsh, stark tundra, homes each to the 4 different areas of exhibits here.
The path changes from compact dirt flooring in the forest, to sandy paths in the desert to a rock lined mountain path that gives way to the tundra-white trodden passage through the surrounding snow.
Detailed placards describe the various theories concerning the Preternatural basis of native legends, including the notion of the Thunderbird being a form of dragon or fairy-modified version of a teratorn, Wendigo being based upon either a branch of lycanthropy or vampires with Vlad's Syndrome, and the Ghost Dance possibly calling upon the Munin of Were-Bison. The Sasquatch/Bigfoot stories have been all but confirmed as being sightings of Trolls, but the Hoopsnakes and Jackalopes of the early American West are still mostly answered with a laugh and/or a shrug.
Field Museum: Special Exhibit ML -Aztec Display
The majesty of the Aztec Empire is spread about. Lush, greenery fills the room, the lower steps of a pyramid against the wall blend with the painting of the wall, showing an ancient scene of a land long since lost. Filling an entire corner of the room is the nest of Jane, the stuffed feathered Serpent, a plaque before her explaining her history. Also in the nest are several broken eggs, and several of the other Quetzalcoatl Draconus, all far smaller than the great Giganticus herself.
In the center of the room, a smooth rounded stone is raised on a dais, carvings of Aztec hieroglyphics on the rough hewn slabs in sharp contract to the shimmering obsidian of the stone. Shackles hold a mannequin over the rock as a priest stands before him, a short blade of obsidian raised above the man, a recreation of an ancient sacrifice.
Field Museum: The Siragusa Center
Clean crisp lines allow for simple, rather utilitarian construction, light washing the open spaces with a warm, welcoming glow. Vending Machines line one wall, an alternative to McDonalds, while plastic tables and chairs fills a simple little eating area.
Field Museum: Underground Adventure
Flashing lights and bold colors abound, attracting the eye and occupying the imagination of children of all ages. One part of the display allows you walk "underground", in the path of an Earthworm, tunneling through large grains of dirt to experience the underground from the perspective of those far smaller than humans, the far end rising out of the ground into the tall forest of green grass blades, ants, spiders and all kinds of things easily lost in any yard, like bottle caps, help experience with greater clarity the size of the world to an insect.
Ranged around the central course of the exhibit are experiment stations that anyone can do, explaining scientific principles in a very fun and enjoyable way. This room tends to be a favorite of school tours, and youngsters on field trips are often seen scampering about the displays, playing so hard they may not even realize they are learning at the same time.
Field Museum: McDonalds
It's a McDonalds. Not much difference between one and another, really. The ever present colors of blue and white (with red and yellow trimmings) abound along with the white parquet floor, booths and tables spread about the area, a broad open corridor lined with stations for napkins, straws and condiments as well as trash cans and soda fountains. Directly beyond the door at the end of this aisle is the standard counter with several ordering positions and the menu board. As always, please remember that, "You deserve a break today… at McDonalds".
Field Museum: Ancient Egypt
Flickering lights of red and gold fill this "chamber", the walls covered in colorful hieroglyphics, golden mummy cases, sarcophagi for those who prefer the more technical names, dot the room, some standing on end, some laying along the floor, others laying on tilted beds of sandstone. Cases filled with burial artifacts, kopi jars and ceremonial tools of mummification, abound, a central sarcophagus of marbleized stone dominates most of the room, roped off with the lid resting on the side, giving clear view of the mummified remains of some nameless pharaoh.
Illustrated placards expound on various theories concerning the Preternatural along the Ancient Nile, including the mummifcation process either being based around making the raising of the dead easier for Animators or around possibly allowing a corpse to be rendered unto a vampire after an extended amount of time. Another theory concerns the gods, possibly being Master Vampires with the ability to call the animals that match to their heads, or Lycanthropes able to shift into those animals.
Field Museum: Special Exhibit LL - Bushman Exhibit
Bushman, a lowland gorilla who once lived at Lincoln Park Zoo, is the star of this exhibit. Huge and imposing, the gorilla has been preserved in all his glory, making any who pass under that primal simian gaze long for at least a glass barrier between them and him, just in case.
Bushman is displayed on a high pedestal in the center of the room, all around are display and information centers, including the restraints and the iron bar cage that he once called home. There is a sense of true barbarism and inhumanity about all of it, the information panels doing nothing to lessen it. At one time, this was how all Zoos held their displays and it makes one sad to think of so much animal suffering, and glad that things have progressed beyond that. One wall shows the conditions that animals given today in the Zoo, showing how far humanity has come in its treatment of animals.
Field Museum: Grainger Gallery
Massive, vaulted ceilings open to the air, allowing beams of light to sparkle along the floor of the central corridor of the upper level. The skull of "Sue", the actual skull, takes up an entire end of the hall, roped off and with the explanation that it was to heavy to be attached to the body, the one below being a plaster replica made from the original. Exhibit entrances range all around, bits and pieces decorating the central aisle to pique curiosity. A Shrine setting of golden buddha's, fossils and models of some of the smaller dinosaurs, even the stuffed form of a Werewolf offer temptations to each of the exhibits, the Southern wall looking out over the sprawling lawns and Lake Michigan for a most breathtaking scene.
Field Museum: The Orient
A wash of cultures fills this space, from the mountains of China, bamboo trees surrounding a pair of Panda, jungles with crouching Bengal tigers and leopards, the the forests giving way to the sedate settings of a Japanese rock garden, a pair of orientals kneeling on either side of a short table, engaged in a tea ceremony, and perhaps the most intriguing of all is the Maori Meeting house of Rautepupuke II.
In addition is replica of a Tibetan shrine, including the giant, dissonant horns which can actually be sounded, the elaborate ceremonial garments and headdresses, and information about the occupied land and its ancient history and traditions.
Dragons, Kitsune, Kappa, and other Preternatural beings of the Orient are detailed and categorized as well as Western Science can. The leading theories tend towards many of the spirits and powers being technically a variation on 'homo arcanus' (IE: the fae) due to their ability to often cross-breed with humanity, although those are often countered with the observation that a Foo Lion and the standard person on the street could hardly be deemed to be in the same genus.
Field Museum: Europe
The European rooms guide the viewer through the vast pantheon of European history. At the beginning is the Prehistory and the Stone age room, with a diorama depicting some unpleasant-looking varieties of Early Man gutting a mammoth. Then comes the Bronze and Iron ages, with their displays of tool making and crude weaponry, and then the early Greeks; some marble statues of the Gods stare down impassively on the visitors as they move on to the might of the Holy Roman Empire, where a soldier in his lorica segmentata keeps watch over a display of pottery and glazing. Beside that is a display of Dark Ages grave goods, followed by some Norman chainmail and early medieval weaponry.
The visitors move past depictions of the butchery of the crusades and the horror of the Black Death, through the middle ages and past the rise of the Ottoman empire, towards the glory of the Rennaissance and then the slow dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Then war followed war with Europe ablaze with the French Revolution, Napoleon's rise and sudden fall, the Russian Revolution, and then the sluggish brutality of the First World War. The map of Europe changed dramatically through the twentieth century as the Second World War followed, leading inexorably to the formation of the United Nations in the ruins of post-war Europe.
Field Museum: The Sue Store
Dinosaurs are so much fun, and especially Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the museum's lobby. Everyone seems to love Sue. Sue mugs, Sue plushies, Sue keychains, mousepads, t-shirt. There are lots more, and there are also things beyond that as well, all kinds of dinosaur memorabilia, not just about Sue. Proceeds go to help pay for the preservation of Sue as well as the other exhibits, as a posted sign attests to. Feel free to shop and take a bit of Sue home with you.
Field Museum: Special Exhibit UL - Lycanthrope Exhibit
The first thing that catches ones attention are the many fangs and claws seeming to all but jump out at them. This collection of beasts is comprised mostly of replicas and photographs: Half wolves, leopards, bears, snakes and various birds, including a hawk, owl and, yes, even a rather lovely looking Swan maiden, fill the room. But from the days of the hunt, when all over the country bounty hunters sought out and hunted down any shifter they could, a few striking examples are the 'real deal', humans killed when in non-human form and preserved through a painstaking blend of magic and science.
Paintings and woodcuts displaying the legends of several of the varieties of animal/human hybrids are on display as well as an actual medical information panel, complete with electron microscopic pictures of the Lycan Virus and cat scans of an anonymous individual, showing the layer of fur beneath the skin. Perhaps most importantly is a very clear and specific explanation of contagion, how it is only when in animal form that an infected members blood is contagious. A bit of a public service announcement, one would suppose.
Field Museum: Dinosaurs
Skeletons and models of the flesh that once inhabited them are everywhere, a display of a raptor pack guarding the nest of eggs that would promise another generation, hunting and fighting other dinosaurs; another of grazing herbivores and the ancient plants they found so delicious; still others showing the giant, bizarre insects and the amber fossils that show the size and shapes of many of these finds, all of these and more are scattered about along with signs explaining names, habits and inter-relations of all the varied ecosystems.
Museum Campus: Main Gate
Clean concrete lines spread out, twisting around emerald swaths of grass, small hills and valleys providing a number of lovely places to rest with a picnic lunch, or just to walk barefoot in the grass. Directly in front is the side of the Field Museum, the entrances lying both to the north and south, gardens and trees stretching beyond, with the vast line of Lake Michigan a silvery slash on the horizon.
Museum Campus: North Lawn
The giant Olmec Head Sculpture resides in front of the Field Museum here, the brick paved courtyard sporting benches and tables to sit at and enjoy the day while the sidewalks continue on through the emerald fields of grass to the lovely gardens just beyond.
Museum Campus: Eastern Gardens
Large Elm trees border this are, raised flower boxes along the sides of the warren of paths give a spray of color and smell, creating a lovely avenue to just stroll along. Just outside of this garden path is the entrance to the Shedd Aquarium, the Entrance to the lower level of the Field Museum is also nearby, the golden arches of the McDonalds inside displayed proudly for all to see, while the paths lead on to the West, along the long Promenade that extends out into the lake and the Planetarium at its end.
Shedd Aquarium: Eastern Gardens
The layout of the Aquarium follows a traditional Greek cross, although the corners are filled in with further exhibits, resulting in an octagon. The terrace follows this design, as does the crowning dome which boasts a massive geodesic skylight above the central sunken tank in the lobby. The design of the granite balustrades surrounding the terrace are borrowed from Greek architecture, with every opportunity used to incorporate aquatic motifs into the traditional Classic design. Cresting waves run atop the cornices, the dome bears Poseidon's trident resting upon the tails of three dolphins in tribute to the Greek god of the sea, terra cotta tiles depicting crabs, lobsters and fishes and covered by an Italian baked glaze decorate the rotunda, the ceiling features traditional rosettes as well as turtles and scallop shells, and near the entrance, octopi are draped over shell lights suspended from bronze ropes while metal turtles, whelks and scallops encrust the beautiful brass doorframes at the entrance.
Large terra cotta window screens enliven the outside walls of the Aquarium. Carved within a mosaic of open shark jaws are images of dolphins, sea turtles and octopus. To the left a school of spotted catfish swim past a bubbling air filter and behind that a series of bloodfins glide through the water.
Museum Campus: Western Promenade
Elms line the sides of this long walk, adding shade and places to sit and enjoy the view. A few picnic tables are scattered along the one side right near the edge of the lake as the walkway leads down the long row to the Planetarium at its end.
On either side of the Alder Planetarium is a crescent-shaped thirteen foot tall bronze sundial to the left, and a Stonehenge-esque Fibonacci spiral of stone blocks to the right, while the Doane Observatory stands between the Planetarium and the lake shore.
Adler Planetarium-Museum Campus: Western Promenade
Originally opened in 1930, the Alder Planetarium (named after founder Max Alder) was one of the finest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and one of the three most complete collections of historical artifacts in astronomy, navigation, time keeping and engineering in the world.
A large circular lobby opens from the top of the entryway stairs, illuminated by a multitude of rainbows during the day from the prismatic glass doors. From there, one can tour the exhibits set in the ground floor (including the central overhead star projector), visit the Infinity Gift Shop, eat at Galileo's Cafe, enjoy the views from the north and south Terraces, or head down to the lower level for the StarRider IMAX Theater, the recreation of the firmament in reverse in the Atwood Sphere, and many other exhibits both informational, educational, entertaining, and interactive.
Behind the half-circle Planetarium, between it and the shores of Lake Michigan, the Doane Observatory allows for a glimpse of the 'real deal'.
Museum Campus: South Lawn
To the south spreads the long line of rolling grass hills and pristine sidewalks, and open expanse that allows a most unique view of the Lake to the West. The field museum and it's classically stylized entrance dominate the landscape, and no doubt would no matter what. Perhaps that is why the landscapers have left this so bare and simple, concentrating all their efforts, it would seem, off to the West with the Promenade and the nearby gardens.