Chicago – February 2019 – History Museum

Amazingly the Chicago History Museum was founded in 1856, just a few years after the settling of the town. Although twice destroyed by fire (once during the Great Chicago Fire), they still have a vast collection of artifacts celebrating the history of the city.

During our visit to Chess Records I had heard that the History Museum had a nice exhibit on the Chicago Blues, which was our encouragement to go to the History Museum.





In the display is this map showing the amazing collection of recording studios and clubs that featured the blues that have existed in Chicago over the years.





Raeburn Flerlage was a famed photographer of the blues scene from 1959-1971, although his career in music lasted much longer.

His photographs were used for many album covers.





Included in the collection is a copy of what is generally acknowledge as the first blues record of all time, St Louis Blues by W C Handy, from 1925.





The south side of Chicago was the hub of the blues, with Maxwell Street being the epicenter.





All of the blues greats were celebrated here, including Muddy Waters.





In the 1950s record companies were only allowed to have so many records in radio station airplay rotation at one time, so they would just start another record company.

This record of Koko Taylor’s Wang Dang Doodle is on Checker Records, the sister company of Chess Records.





Moving on from the blues display we checked out Chicago – Crossroad of America. This documented Chicago as the transportation hub of the country since the early days of the railroad.





Also on display was one of the original El cars from 1892.





A number of focus displays included one of the infamous gangland activities during prohibition in the 1920s.





Keeping with the infamous Playboy Magazine started in Chicago, as did the original club with the hostess (bunny) outfit on display.





As noted in other postings, Chicago was always mail order center of the country.





Another section celebrated entertainment events in Chicago including the 1893 World’s Fair.





As well as the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair.






Finally there was a small section celebrating the professional sports teams of Chicago – baseball’s Cubs and White Sox, football’s Bears, basketball’s Bulls and hockey’s Blackhawks.








Chicago – February 2019 – American Writers Museum

The American Writers Museum is located in an Art Deco skyscraper on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. Opened in 2017, it has been met with mixed reviews.

Apparently by ‘Writers’, it means any writer, including songwriters as the featured display when we were there was on Bob Dylan.





Among the collection were the handwritten lyrics to ‘Tom Thumb’.





Much was made about Dylan’s famed ‘electric’ set at the Newport Folk Festival in the 1960s. When Bob plugged in the crowd tuned out (literally booing him off the stage).





Among the collection was a copy of Catcher in the Rye with Dylan’s doodling.





The Nation of Writers hall is a long display chronicling writers throughout American history. Each had some small tidbits of information about them in displays that flipped around.





It includes only dead writers.





Another section featured vintage typewriters, along with notes encouraging you to start typing a story and leave it for others to add to it.





The other special display was on Fredrick Douglass.





The display touched on Douglass’s activism in equal rights.





It also included a couple of his personal items.





Finally there was a section of Chicago area writers. Amazingly while it included advice columnist Ann Landers it did not include Oak Park, Illinois born Ernest Hemingway!

If you are into literature, and catchy displays, the American Writers Museum is for you. Overall it could’ve been so much more.





Cleveland – February 2019 – Radwood

There is a group of auto enthusiasts who celebrate the 1980s and 90s automotive style couple with the overall feel of the time. They encourage period correct dress to go along with the cars.

Normally held outdoors with large audience participation I read online that the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum was holding an exhibit.





The small display of about a dozen cars did feature some fashion.





Some of it the classic (some would say tacky) look straight from Miami Vice.





It is not their goal to have the best, or most expensive cars presented, just ones that are representative of the era.

Overall the exhibit was disappointing because it lacked that audience participation. Fortunately there is more to see at the Crawford.





Most of the museum celebrates the long history of auto making in Cleveland and northern Ohio. One of the longest in business was White Motors who started building cars and trucks in 1900.





In addition to the cars and planes there are numerous large banners celebrating historic Cleveland events including the 1936 Great Lakes Exposition.








For many years Cleveland held the national air races. The exhibit includes a couple of the planes.





The lower level featured more automobiles with historic significance..













We finished by checking out this sweet Cleveland motorcycle







Cincinnati – January 2019 – Guitars

For the past 7 years the National Guitar Museum has had a travelling exhibit on the history of Guitar. This exhibit has been on display at 21 science museums, with Cincinnati’s turn ending soon.





With more than 60 items on display, the exhibit gives an excellent overview of the history of stringed instruments, as well as the science behind the guitar. The example below is an Oud, a Persian instrument similar to a lute.





The exhibit covered everything from banjos to electric guitar and synthesizers.





The artistic aspect was emphasized.





As well as some unusual designs.









The rare Gibson Harp Guitar.





Any exhibit on guitar must have a Gibson Les Paul




And a Fender Stratocaster!



Gresch was well represented, including this dobro





And a White Falcon





The quantity and quality of the guitars was very impressive. As a photographer the lighting and reflective glass/plastic was very challenging. One would think ‘world class museums’ could do better.

Still, it was well worth the trip to Cincinnati.







Cincinnati – January 2019 – Museum Center Exhibits

Our first trip of the year always seems to be down to Cincinnati, and 2019 started out the same. We were headed to the Cincinnati Museum Center for a guitar exhibit (in a separate posting), but since we were there we checked out the rest of the exhibits that we could.

The Cincinnati Museum Center is in the 80+ year old Union Terminal, and anything that age needs a little love now and then. The Museum Center has been in a mult-year refurbishing program, and as such much was still closed (but the remainder is scheduled to open in the spring).

Still the annual holiday train display was present.







Nearby was a Lego dispay





The display featured numerous Cincinnati landmarks including the famed Roebling Suspension bridge.





The Cincinnati Music Hall





And a Baltimore & Ohio Railway Freight building.





The Natural History Museum is still closed as well, but they do have a nice dinosaur exhibit open in the meantime.











Chicago – December 2018 – The Field Museum

Our major museum visit this trip was to the Field Museum of Natural History. It is known as one of the premier natural history museums in the world, and attracts millions of visitors per year.





We were here to learn about natural history.





As we entered the lobby we stopped by a small kiosk with a display of bugs.





Our first hall major exhibit we toured was the Hall of Ancient Americas. This wing covered both North and South America.

Each region featured pottery, sculptures, jewelry and more, and started with South and Central America cultures such as the Aztec and Inca (and many more)

The final section included the Northern Cultures. While similar to the southern cultures, these featured more large scale sculptures like the totem poles.

The second level featured Griffin Hall – a large dinosaur exhibit.

The most famous is Sue – the most complete T Rex ever discovered. For some reason there was unusual lighting on Sue when we were there.

One the main display the head is a cast of the original, which is in the next room in a display so you can inspect it closer.

We paid a brief visit to the cultures of the Pacific

Our final stop was an Egyptian display, including mummies.