Tag Archives: Chicago

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.

Chicago: 360 Chicago (formerly John Hancock Observatory)

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This observatory is located in John Hancock Center, which is, as of this writing the fourth tallest building in Chicago and the seventh tallest in the US.

Because I already saw Chicago’s skyline at daytime when I visited Willis Tower, I made it a point to visit John Hancock at night. Here are my first views from the observatory.

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The building is located along the city’s Magnificent Mile and soars 1,000 feet above Lake Michigan so it offers beautiful views of downtown Chicago.

I got lucky because when I was there, it was at dusk and after I crossed the skywalk, I got to view the sunset.

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Here’s a panoramic shot of it.

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Pardon the photo quality, as this was taken using my mobile phone.

Later, because my tummy was rumbling, I decided to have some snacks in the observatory’s Lavazza Espression.

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It was a chilly night so my White Chocolate Mocha was the perfect way to warm up. And their Blueberry Muffin complemented it perfectly.

After my yummy snacks, I resumed to taking photos of the beautiful night views before me.

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The above view is that of Chicago’s lakefront.  Isn’t it amazing?

The observatory also gave me good views of Navy Pier.  Too bad my camera could not zoom in well and it was too dark so it was a challenge to take good photos.

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For more information about 360 Chicago, visit www.360chicago.com.

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Chicago: Shedd Aquarium

The John G. Shedd Aquarium opened in 1930 and was the first inland aquarium in the world with permanent saltwater fish collection.  For a time too, it was the largest indoor aquarium in the world.

The queue to the aquarium’s entrance was long.  Thankfully, I had a CityPass so I did not have to line up.

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After exchanging my Shedd Aquarium pass for tickets, I took my time discovering the wonders of this famous Chicago attraction.

Rivers, Islands, and Lakes
In this section, I was introduced to different species of freshwater fishes from around the world.

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But my most interesting finds here would be the following: the pig-nosed turtle, which is a turtle specie native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea.

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Piranha, which we are familiar with, of course, because of the many movies about them.

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Isn’t it interesting how they look innocent in these photos when in movies, they are portrayed as aggressive, insatiable predators?

And finally, the Bahamas Andros Iguana, turtles and a lone shrimp.

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These colorful frogs were also visually arresting.

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While I was able to identify the black and yellow one as a Bumblebee Dart Poison Frog, Google was not specific about the orange ones.

Jellies

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I had been to Manila Ocean Park and Hong Kong Ocean Park’s jelly exhibits, but I was still in awe when I saw Shedd’s mainly because their jelly selection is more varied.

 Aquatic Show

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I took the 3:30 PM schedule for this show.  Seating was available 30 minutes prior, but because I arrived late, I was not able to get good seats.  Still, I enjoyed the show, which featured beluga whales.

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A trivia:  Beluga whales are usually born gray.  At one month, they gradually lose their pigmentation until they reach their white color at the age of 7 in females and 9 in males.

Aside from the whale show, a penguin was also introduced (sorry, I only had one clear photo since I was seated two far from the front) and a dog, which they rescued when they knew it was neglected and abused.

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Lastly, there was this dolphin show.

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Wild Reef
I was proud to see this exhibit, which is of the Philippines.

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I did some diving and snorkeling in many of my country’s waters, and know of our rich coral reefs, and it was heartwarming to see these shown in a different country.

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It’s amazing how the Chicago office of the Philippines’ Department of Tourism was able to create our traditional bahay kubo (wooden houses) and the usual beachfront scenes in many of our islands.

Amazon Rising
This is a forest recreation of the Amazon River and the surrounding jungle and features fishes, stingrays, turtles, and whatnot.

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Some interesting creatures include the Giant Peruvian Cockroach, the Emerald Tree Boa, the Dyeing Poison Dart Frog, and a monkey specie that I was not able to identify.

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Of the above, the monkey was the most difficult to photograph because it kept hopping from one branch to another, but my patience at standing still in front of it was rewarded with this shot.

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More memories of Shedd
I also watched Ice Age in its 4D Theatre (sorry, I have no photo of what I saw because taking photos was not allowed), interacted with stingrays at Stingray Touch, viewed penguins and sea lions up close and saw Shedd’s Coral Lab.

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More interesting water creatures
Aside from these colorful fishes at Shedd Aquarium,

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I also saw an Orange Sea Pen, Garden Eels, seahorses, and colorful starfishes.

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There were other interesting creatures too that unfortunately, I cannot identify (and too lazy to Google, te he!)

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For more information about Shedd Aquarium, visit www.sheddaquarium.org.

Chicago: Willis Tower and SkyDeck Chicago Experience

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When I visited Willis Tower (formerly Sears) in 2013 and as of this writing, it is the 2nd tallest building in the USA and the 8th tallest freestanding structure in the world.  It was in my to-do list when I visited the windy city because I read in a travel guide that when in its view deck, one can see three states of the USA.

This is the entrance where I was dropped off.  Before heading to Jackson Boulevard, I took an ant’s point of view of the building.

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I had a Chicago CityPass voucher so my visit to SkyDeck Chicago was most convenient.  I skipped the long lines and was immediately accommodated on the Fast Pass Lane.

Before reaching the view deck, we watched a show about the history of this iconic building, and the information that stuck to me was this:   At the time of its completion in 1973, it was the tallest building in the world, and held this rank for nearly 25 years.

When we were finally at the view deck, I was amazed at the views I was having.

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Just look at how this amazing city developed their spaces:  tall buildings coexist with their parks and public spaces and gardens and with Michigan Lake.

Here’s a collage of my views of John Hancock Center (I also visited this iconic building and will blog about it in a future post) and Chicago Sun Times and the roadway below.

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Here are more panoramic shots of my view at the deck.

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It’s summer when I was there so the views were clear and stunning.  I’m not really familiar with what I was seeing, but I overheard an American guy tell his children that the 4 states that can be seen are Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

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My most memorable experience in the tower is stepping over the ledge, which was unveiled in 2009.  These all-glass boxes allow visitors to look through the floor on the street 1,353 feet, 412 meters and 103 floors below.  Whew!

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This is a must-do when here.  Just be prepared to wait because not everyone is up to the challenge.  It was amusing to see people hold on to their family members as they wailed, “No, nooo, I can’t do this!  I’m scared!”  But there were daredevils too who, once on the ledge, would jump to their heart’s content and were unmindful of the dagger looks from the scared ones.

I exited on another side of the building and was lucky to chance on (okay, I admit it, I got lost, ha ha!) the part of the building with a huge Willis Tower signage.

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What more, as I tried to find my way, I found this cool art installation of denims with flowers.  And there’s a smaller Willis Tower signage too!

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Willis Tower is located in 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, United States.  Visit http://theskydeck.com/ for more information.