Monthly Archives: May 2014

Chicago: Field Museum

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Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. It boasts of an extensive scientific specimen and artifact collections and diverse and high quality permanent exhibitions.  I visited this after I explored Adler Planetarium (these two and Shedd Aquarium are Chicago’s Museum Campus’ famous attractions).

Once inside, I was impressed by the fine details that decorate every arch, colonnade, wall, and ceiling of this beautiful building.

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Tip:  Make sure to go to the upper floor because it provides a good vantage point for the exhibits on the main exhibit hall below.

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Sue
Perhaps the museum’s most popular resident.

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Sue is a Tyrannosaurus rex that Field Museum unveiled on May 17, 2000. It is named after Sue Hendrickson, the person who discovered it.

A trivia: At 42 feet long, Sue is the largest and most complete (80%) Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton currently known.

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By the way, Sue’s original skull is located on the second floor of Field Museum and this is because it is too heavy to be mounted on the skeleton.

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African Elephants
Aside from Sue, there are African elephants too at Field Museum’s main level.

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Inside Ancient Egypt
Tip:  There are two floors for this exhibit.  Ever the map-challenged, I just wandered aimlessly at Field Museum and initially found myself on the lower floor of this exhibit, which is actually its second part.  Good thing it had a notice (small print on the lower left of the signage).

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Nevertheless, I continued my exploration and saw the above.  Later, I took the stairs to the upper floor.  Here, I was introduced to this exhibit’s reconstruction of the tomb of Unis-ankh, the son of Unas (the last pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty).

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Note that there are twenty-three human mummies on display in this exhibit. It also features 5,000-year-old hieroglyphs.

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Amazing!  And there’s even a boat with a plank that was used for the then newly developed carbon 14 dating.

The Ancient Americas
This permanent exhibit is all about how people from the Arctic to South America lived centuries ago.

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My best finds here include a dancing shaman.  My interest in shamans started when I read the book People of the Wolf by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear in high school.  I also learned something new:  that is, that a stack of rocks is called inuksuk.

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In the above collage, there’s a lodge too.  I went inside it and found out it’s decked in what a traditional Pawnee lodge looked like.

Pacific Spirits
Takes you 100 years into the past to witness the customs and costumes of the Pacific.

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Hall of Jades
Did you know that this collection spans 8,000 years?

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My most interesting find here is the nephrite boulder, which is one of two different mineral species of jade.  Just look at how ordinary looking it is until a section was polished to reveal the jade underneath.  

Underground Adventures
This gives visitors a bugs-eye look at the world beneath out feet. Features insects and soil.

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My most interesting experience here is “shrinking.” Too bad I was too excited I forgot to take my photo. Sheez!

Plants of the World
This is basically the botanical world in replica.

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Here, I appreciated seeing replicas of a tea plantation and tea plants.

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Imagine how painstakingly they recreated all these to look so real!

Tibet and China Exhibits

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Features the above countries’ traditional clothing.

Bushman, DNA Discovery Center, Evolving Planet
Bushman was Lincoln Park Zoo’s most popular resident. Its directors even voted him, “the most outstanding animal in any zoo in the world and the most valuable.”

DNA Discovery Center is where we watched real scientists extract DNA from a variety of organisms, while Evolving Planet follows the history and the evolution of life on Earth over 4 billion years.

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The above collage also features other Field Museum scenes: Igneous Rocks, Lion Spearing and  a lion that I’m not sure if it’s one of two Lions of Tsavo.

More Memorable Memories of Field Museum
Aside from seeing the tomb of the son of an Egyptian king, another memorable encounter I had was the one with Creatures of Light, which delves into the mysterious world of bioluminescence. It’s about glowing fireflies, glowworms, and deep-sea fishes that illuminate the dark depths of the ocean. It’s one magical spectacle. Too bad picture-taking is not allowed.

The Cave Paintings of Lascaux was also one interesting exhibit.  It features beautiful paintings and engravings of animals in Lascaux’s caves. Though the cave that was in Field Museum was just a replica (and so are the full-sized paintings), it was still wonderful to view copies of artworks created nearly 20,000 years ago!

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I was also amazed to see a Pterodactyl.  You see, I was such a huge Power Rangers Fan as a kid and my favorite character then was Amy, the Pink Ranger, whose power coin was a Pterodactyl.

And thus concludes my visit to this famous Chicago attraction.  For more information about Field Museum, visit fieldmuseum.org.

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Chicago: Adler Planetarium

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Adler Planetarium was founded in 1930 and is America’s first planetarium. Its mission is to inspire exploration and understanding of the universe.

It was a very foggy morning when I visited Adler. Just look at that skyline!

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It was sooo cold my teeth were chattering because I did not expect Chicago to be so chilly in summer and so I had just a thin cotton jacket with me. What more, just when I was about to take photos, I realized I left my memory card in my laptop when I uploaded photos the night before.  Ugh!

And so I went back to my hotel, which was a blessing in disguise because I got to bring a thicker jacket, which came in handy as I lingered outdoors to take photos of Adler’s exterior.

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The sculpture (lower right photo) is called Man Enters the Cosmos by Henry Moore. It is made of bronze and is a functional bowstring equatorial sundial created in 1980 measuring approximately 13 feet.

After exchanging my CityPass for tickets, I started exploring Adler Planetarium.

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Clark Family Welcome Gallery

This exhibition features one-of-a-kind architecture with colorful lighting.

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My favorite part? Its being an interactive exhibit, which allows visitors to explore space in different ways. Here’s a collage of me taking photos of and moving planets around.

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It’s all possible because of infrared sensors. Cool, huh.

Shoot for the Moon
This exhibit shares the story of America’s first journey into space in the 1960s as told by Jim Lovell, a former NASA astronaut most famous for being the commander of the Apollo 13 Mission.

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I was struck by his quote about the earth being a grand oasis in the vastness of space, and the part of me who, when traveling, finds joy in visiting a city’s tallest structure and looking down on the cityscape below, wished that someday, I will also get to see the world from space.

The exhibit also traces the history of the Gemini program and the hugely successful Apollo missions, which saw America reach its goal of landing man on the Moon.

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But Shoot for the Moon’s coolest feature would have been the Moon Wall, which lets visitors explore the surface of the moon using the latest images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) currently orbiting the moon.

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Our Solar System
An exhibit featuring planets, moons, asteroids, meteorites, and more.

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Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass

Features some of the world’s most important telescopes that helped mankind discover great things about our universe.

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Astronomy in Culture

This exhibit is about how ancient and medieval cultures used and studied astronomy.

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Isn’t it amazing to gaze at paraphernalia from ancient times? I even found a pillar sundial from 1580!

Historic Atwood Sphere
This experience is of seeing the night sky over Chicago as it appeared in 1913. The Atwood Sphere is Chicago’s first planetarium and when I was there last year, it was celebrating its 100th year.

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This is definitely worth queueing up for (I waited for about 30 minutes), but I do not recommend this to claustrophobic people because you have to go inside the sphere for a guided tour.

By the way, the sphere is seventeen feet in diameter and has 692 holes drilled through its metal surface. These holes allow light to enter and show the positions of the brightest stars in the night sky (the black and white photo was my view when I experienced this).

Live Discussions
Aside from exhibits, there were also actual discussions from the experts.

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There were touchscreen monitors too that let guests explore the universe at their own pace.  Amazing!

More Adler Planetarium Experiences
Aside from trying out the Atwood Sphere, I also watched 3D Sun in Johnson Theater. Sadly, no photo-taking was allowed. I also took a photo of me in one of the exhibits featuring infrared lighting.

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By the way, Adler Planetarium is a good vantage point when viewing Lake Michigan with the beautiful Chicago skyline as its backdrop. Just look at this panoramic shot I took before I left Adler.

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Isn’t it amazing? Not only did this panoramic shot capture Chicago’s skyline. Shedd Aquarium is also visible (far left), and so is Navy Pier (far right).

For more information about Adler Planetarium, visit www.adlerplanetarium.org.