Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yep, that's a museum.

Living close to Chicago gives us the privilege of being near many different museums and other attractions. We take advantage of this quite often. One of my "philosophies" (ha-ha, like a slacker actually expends the effort to develop philosophies!) of homeschooling is that if the girls can touch it, they will learn more than if they just listen to me talk about it.
And so, having just finished 4 weeks of reading and talking about Ancient Egypt, we hopped in the van and headed for Lake Shore Drive on Tuesday. Tuesday being Discount Day on the Museum Campus, not accounting for parking fees.
And the Field Museum is exactly as I remember it. It has been fifteen years since I last visited and it will be another fifteen before I visit again. It is still full of static exhibits with very little there to interact with. Taxidermy and fake plants behind glass, all carefully labeled, but in no way engaging. No background sound other than echoing footsteps and unnaturally hushed voices. It was like being in a library of the dead. We were done in under three hours.
But what about Sue, you ask? Isn't Sue, the most complete T-rex ever found, at the Field Museum? Why, Yes, she is. And completely unapproachable and uninteresting as almost everything else. The Sue gift store was more dynamic. I can say this because we went to see the traveling exhibit of Sue when it was at SciTech in Aurora. There, it was incredible with lots of hands on activities to draw the kids in. What a disappointment that Sue's permanent home has reduced her to the stereotype of boring archaeology that scientists try so hard to avoid.
The beautiful hallway of butterflies is gone and the Underground Adventure scared the daylights out of my 5 yo. An 8 foot earwig that moves and a giant spider that growls? Those were more terrifying than the real maneating Lion of Tsavo-carefully labeled and behind glass.
Lest you think that this entire post will be negative, let me tell you that we did have a good time in spite of the museum. But the girls and I can create our own fun no matter where we're at. And they did not know how disappointed I was. Where the information was lacking, we filled in the gaps from what we have learned on our own. We took pictures of all of the cat mummies in the building, stuck our tongues out at the funeral masks from Melanesia, and decided to go to the Zoo next to see the animals while they are still breathing. At one point, while we were listening to a tour guide drone on to a poor, captive group of High School students, J asked me, "Why doesn't he just tell them that they are Canopic Jars?" Out of the mouth of babes...."Get on with it already!"
I have not seen Night at the Museum. But if I understand the premise, the displays of the museum come alive and a night guard learns from them. Is that about right?
Not at this museum.


  1. I'm sure you and the kids would have a LOT more fun at the Museum of Science and Industry. Not that I'm trying to plug it because I am a volunteer there or anything, but it is much more hands-on. :)


  2. Science & Industry is on the list just after the zoo-and we have been there several times already. In about two weeks we will be switching from History to Science for the next quarter and it will fit in better then.
    When are you usually there?

  3. hey, maybe we can schedule a time in the spring where we could meet at the creation museum in KY. My Mom and brother were there in July and really loved it. maybe we could plant some letterboxes!


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