Chicago – Day 3 Culture Center and Museums

Sad news – the Smith Museum of Stained Glass at Navy Pier (which was originally why we chose Chicago) is closed indefinitely as the pier is undergoing major renovations. The glass has all been packed up and moved to storage. News reports say it is unclear if the museum will reopen in the future and the destiny of the glass is unknown. You can imagine how my heart fell at this news. But not for long… there is something else coming today that lifted me again beyond my wildest expectations. Read on…

To start the day, the four of us decided on breakfast at the #3 rated restaurant in Chicago, Wildberry Pancakes right on the north corner of Millennium Park. It’s only a 15 minute walk from our apartment so, we walked… in the rain… pouring rain… and I discovered my rain jacked is NOT waterproof. Never mind. Once we got sat down, we dried off and had a fantastic breakfast (I had the oatmeal and sausages). Here’s the fun part… while we were sitting there happily munching away, Dee Snider from Twisted Sister walked right past the window… I almost (actually I did) came right out of my chair. My first celebrity spotting in Chicago! So Cool!

After breakfast, we crossed the corner to visit the Chicago Cultural Center for the main purpose of seeing the world’s largest stained glass domes. What an interesting building – originally a public library it now serves as the city’s main information center. Try to picture this in your mind…you walk in and see the main foyer with information booths all around (maps, books, brochures, etc) and side rooms off that with public art. Walking past the foyer are twin marble curved staircases that take you up three levels to the upper ballroom… the walls along the way are covered every inch in stained glass mosaic inlay… absolutely incredible the amount of work that went into its creation… and then you step into the ballroom and look up   …    (pause for dramatic effect)  … and there is the first of two glass domes (world’s largest). The first one was made by Healey and Millet and is very ornate, Victorian style. It must be 40 feet in diameter and is the most beautiful glass I have ever seen. My photos certainly do not do it justice.

Travelling through a corridor past other smaller rooms with art exhibits (some of it quite weird)… you come to the second ballroom and hold your breath as you glide under the second dome (same size as the first). This one was made by Louis Comfort Tiffany and is not as ornate as the first but every bit just as beautiful. The panels are like fish scales and the detail work is exquisite. Oh my! You can image my delight in being here and seeing this. If you go to Chicago, this is a free attraction and a “must do”.

Leaving the Cultural Center, we crossed the street and arrive in perfect time for the 10:00 opening of the Art Institute of Chicago, ranked the #1 Museum in the World for 2014. Here is where we spent the next 4 hours contemplating priceless works of art including more stained glass. Who’s a happy camper now?

After the museum, we hopped the subway to the Magnificent Mile for lunch at Ghirardelli’s Chocolate. Ice cream Sundays for lunch 🙂 Then Maneau and Jake went shopping so Monica and I decided to go back to the David Bowie exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It couldn’t have rained any harder but we got there and checked our coats and stepped into a time warp all the way back to 1962 when David Jones was just 16 years old. That’s where the tour started. We followed his career as he became Bowie and defined and re-defined himself many times over the years. The costumes!!! It was like seeing and listening to seven concerts in the same afternoon. No photos allowed in the exhibit 😦

Time to go home for supper. Did I say it couldn’t have rained any harder? Well I was wrong. We were soaking wet and hungry when we arrived so we all decided to order in Italian for supper. Spaghetti and a nice glass of Ravenswood Zinfandel was the perfect end to a perfect day (despite the weather). We enjoyed the evening laughing and recounting the day’s stories and making plans for the rest of the week.

Here is today’s journey in images.



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