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Top 10 for museums in winter 2024


True Chicagoans know that the best season to visit museums in this city is winter. New exhibitions are opening everywhere, it’s off season for tourists and best of all, you can spend the afternoons staying inside. It spins like a rotisserie chicken in front of the room heater.

The cultural institutions below — at least when I last checked — have four walls, a roof, and something on standby for the winter that promises to change you a bit, or better yet, leave you hungry to learn more. (Speaking of “hungry,” hold on to that thought for two paragraphs.)

Ten new or soon-to-close exhibitions:

Hey, at least it’s still Christmas Swedish American Museum. Traditionally Swedish peasant houses frequency Paintings on canvas, fabric or paper kept as family heirlooms to decorate Advent and feast days. Heiress and folk art enthusiast Florence Dibell Bartlett donated 29 frequency to the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1930s. The Art Institute also gave them to the Swedish American Museum in 2000. This soon-to-close exhibition showcases the eighth largest collection in the world. “Bonader” runs Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Jan. 14 at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St.; tickets are $6 for adults; $4 for students, seniors and children; $15 for families, swedishamericanmuseum.org

How did chopped suey and egg foo young become as American as apple pie? “Chinese Cuisine in America” traces the history of this ever-adaptive tradition, touching on the history of Chinese immigration, the emergence of urban Chinatowns, and current food fads along the way. The exhibit spans the country, but miniatures from Chicago favorites like Orange Garden, Sun Wah, and Triple Crown play a major role. The best part? Chinese American Museum walking distance to all places Chinatown food classicsfor your edible education. “Chinese Cuisine in America: Stories, Struggles, and Successes” through January 21, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Chicago’s Chinese American Museum Open at 238 W. 23rd. St.; A suggested donation of $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors is suggested. ccamuseum.org

In 1970, with the Black Arts Movement in full swing, artists teamed up with the Chicago Defender to hold the first celebration of Black Creativity, then called Black Aesthetics. For over 50 years, this multidisciplinary series of events, exhibitions and education is still Museum of Science and Industry House. The centerpiece of this exhibition is the Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition, the longest continuously running exhibition of African American art in the United States. This year there are more than 150 strong works representing more than 100 different artists, some of whom are still in high school. “Black Creativity,” Jan. 14 to April 21, daily 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; adults $26 and children 3-11 $15; plus a full associated program Black Creativity events msi.org.

Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle is an elaborate miniature house on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, created by silent film star Colleen Moore in the 1930s.

During the Great Depression, rather than spend her fortune on herself, Jazz Age it-girl Colleen Moore built a fantastical Fairy Castle to tour the demoralized country. The miniature wonder has become a beloved mainstay Museum of Science and Industry From 1949 he even gave the Art Institute’s Thorne Rooms a run for their money. In recent months, Fairy Castle recaptured the public imagination with Kathleen Rooney’s novel “From Dust to Stardust,” which fictionalized Moore’s story. This all-day event includes a conversation between Rooney and Moore’s grandson, a book signing, an artisan market and a screening of “Flaming Youth,” starring Moore. “Moore’s Magnificent Minis,” Jan. 27, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; tickets are $26 for adults, $15 for children ages 3 to 11; some events require extra entry fees; check for more information msichicago.org

The annual Architecture and Design Film Festival, established in 2008, Chicago Architecture Center after passing through other North American cities. Featured films focus on a wide range of topics, from Soviet-era bus stops to Sao Paulo slums. Look out for the festival’s double features, which showcase two short documentaries for the price of one. Architecture and Design Film Festival, January 31 – February 4, Chicago Architecture Center, 111 E. Wacker Drive; Tickets are $20 per screening, with full lineup and details at: architecture.org

Adler Planetarium Since 2019, Grainger debuts its first new production at Sky Theatre: “Niyah and the Multiverse,” a family-friendly Afrofuturist play starring a Chicago teenager and her cat. The script was written by Wakandacon producer Taylor Witten and Ytasha Womack, author of the 2013 book “Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi and Fantasy Culture.” (Both collaborated with the planetarium to create “A Night at Afrofuture” for the Adler After Dark series in February 2019.) “Niyah and the Multiverse” on Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Mondays and 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays at the Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; Tickets are $19 for adults, $8 for children, adlerplanetarium.org

A tablet with a story about Babylonian student life, unearthed in Nippur in 1951-52.  Part of the exhibition "Back to School in Babylon" at the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures at the University of Chicago.  - Original Credit:

Even the ancient Mesopotamians had midterm exams. “Back to School in Babylon” at the University of Chicago Research Institute of Ancient Cultures (née Oriental Institute) reassembles objects unearthed from the footprints of a scribe’s school in the ancient city of Nippur in south-central Iraq in the 1950s. Split between UChicago and UPenn’s collections, the works document cuneiform practice, studies of subjects such as mathematics and legal writing, and sometimes even students’ frustration and boredom. One tablet was found crumpled up like a crumpled piece of paper, while another appeared to have been gnawed. Through March 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Fridays (open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Mondays (closed), Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, 1155 E. 58th St.; suggested admission $10 for adults and $5 for children; isac.uchicago.edu

"Bag Study" Tanaka Yu (2018), "Untitled (Crushed Asahi Beer Can)" Mishima Kimiyo (2007) and "council" Written by: Yamaguchi Mio (2020).  From the Carol & Jeffrey Horvitz Collection of Contemporary Japanese Ceramics and part of the exhibition "Radical Clay: Contemporary Women Artists from Japan" at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Art Institute has an impressive collection of Japanese prints: this winter is a follow-up to last year’s “Ghosts and Demons in Japanese Prints.” “By the Light of the Moon: Night in Japanese Prints” (January 20 – April 14). But among special exhibitions on Japanese art, “Radical Clay: Contemporary Women Artists from Japan” is not to be missed; surprisingly complex works by living sculptors loaned to the museum for a limited time. “Radical Clay: Contemporary Women Artists from Japan” through June 3, Mondays and Fridays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave.; tickets are $32 for adults; $26 for seniors, students and youth; children are free, artic.edu

Smithsonian connects with Chicago National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture (host of the exhibition) and the Field Museum to shed light on the indigenous Arawak-speaking peoples of what is now Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The Taíno were also the first group to encounter Christopher Columbus; Like many other peoples in the Americas, their population and culture were devastated by Spanish colonialism. This exhibition shows how the Taíno found ways to preserve their heritage and traces preserving this knowledge to today’s Taíno revival movements. “¡Taíno Vive! Caribbean Native Resistance,” January 6 – June 16, Tuesdays-Thursdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., National Museum of Puerto Rico Arts and Culture, Open at 3015 W. St. Free, nmprac.org

Cocktail napkins and matchboxes are among the archival materials from the legendary Mister Kelly's nightclub, taken from a collection devoted to the former Rush Street nightclub at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Freestanding spaces are painfully temporary: they come, they go, they often disappear in time. Luckily Mister Kelly’s – the defunct Gold Coast nightclub now occupied by Gibson’s Steakhouse – Newberry Library After it closed in 1975, it re-acquired its collection. a new exhibition invites visitors to imagine what it might be like to visit the legendary club, home to jazz legends, comedy icons and, according to the Tribune in 1959, “girl tossing” (acrobatics). “A Night at Mister Kelly’s” runs Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., March 21 through July 20, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St.; free, newberry.org

Hannah Edgar is a freelance writer.


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