Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Discoveries

An Art Institute excursion into the city led to the exciting discovery of two new museums on the University of Chicago Campus in Hyde Park.  Yes, this is the location of our President's home, street blocked off and only a corner of the house is visible because of the many tall evergreens bordering the property.

We first visited The Smart Museum named after the family who published Esquire magazine.  It contains artwork spanning five thousand years.  Admission is free and it survives on donations and the generosity of several foundations.

The largest ink painting ever created by Bingyi covers the wall behind the stainless steel sculpture in the entrance of The Smart Museum.  The sculpture is by Zahn Wang from China.

Our tour begins in the Contemporary Room with some works that make us ponder the meaning.

There were several of these enclosed dome collections of scientific materials sort of like visible time capsules.

Fiber Art Hangings

Dining Room Set (with post lights) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Four Arts Ball (1929)
Guy Pene Du Bois

There is artwork for every taste in this museum, contemporary, sculpture, furniture, baroque, religious, etc.  The most stunning exhibition was The Tragic Muse of which I was not allowed to photograph, so please excuse the photos from the brochure.

The Tragic Actor (Rouviere as Hamlet) 1866 by Edouard Manet
This is a very large oil estimating about nine feet tall by five feet wide.

The Child's Grave (1857)
By Joshua Hargrave Sams Mann

The colors in this collection were magnificent so life like and well preserved through the centuries, many dating back to the 1500's.

After the Smart Museum we stopped for lunch at Cedars Mediterranean restaurant which began with pita bread and two different types of hummus, a ground garbanzo bean meatball and then a wonderful salad, rice, two vegetarian dishes, ground lamb with spices and lemon chicken.  The dessert was a tasty rice pudding and baklava.

Now we were on to the Oriental Museum which is part of the University of Chicago's Archeology Department.  It was founded in 1919 by James Henry Brested (supposedly the model for Indiana Jones) and partially funded by John D. Rockfeller housed in a beautiful art deco building completed in 1930.  They have several digging sites throughout the middle east and continually send artifacts back to the university to be studied and processed.

The Striding Lions
On color glazed brick flanking the sides of the road leading out from the City of Babylon

One of a pair of carved stone bull heads. missing the horns, weighing ten tons, repaired after being shipped back to Chicago

The Man/Bull sat at the top of columns holding up the ceiling of a building in Iran - made of limestone

Sandals from 1600 BC, and we thought we invented flip flops!

A child's pull toy from 2300 BC

A thirty-two year old woman that they have done a CAT scan on (results were that she appeared healthy with two broken bones, no cause of death detected)

King Tut (there are small feet to the side which were thought to be part of the statue of his wife - you can see where her whole form had been broken off)

Part of two long walls leading into the King's palace, color has been worn away through the years

I had never been to this museum and certainly was not able to digest even a small portion of what it contains.  Because the building and its decor takes you back to the art deco period, one feels like they are on the set of an Indiana Jones movie!


Sissy said...

Something really is different about the Child's Grave painting, isn't there?? I stared at it for a long time, trying to figure it out.. I bet it's really something in person!

sarah said...

As soon as I saw the tops of the chairs in the dining table photo while scrolling down, I thought "Art Nouveau, Mission, Bungalow . . . ? And I was pretty sure I knew who designed it. I love Frank Lloyd Wright; that period of art, architecture, gardening, and decor is my very favorite!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Sissy,

The colors were so intense and the expressions on the childrens faces so realistic.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Sarah,

The dining set was in excellent condition and I would have loved to see those lights illuminated.


mary anne said...


I SAY, Good for you!!!! loved the art canvas portion of your "discoveries"

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Mary Anne,

I know your life is certainly not boring. It is good to keep very busy learning new things.



Great tour, Eileen with so many works of art to admire.

allanbecker-gardenguru said...

Awesome museum pieces. Thanks for taking us along on the visit.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Chicago is definitely on my list of places to visit one day. I really enjoyed this post and seeing some of the art displayed. I have to say I've never really "gotten" modern art, but love looking at paintings like the ones you showed. It reminds me that it's been too long since I visited the Seattle Art Museum.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Carolyn,

There were so many pieces, too many to show. I need to go back to take it all in.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Catherine,

Even though I lived near this museum as a young child I never knew it existed.


Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

Hi Eileen, These art excursions sound like such fun. I would even go for the lunch alone! You certainly saw a wide range of art-everything from wildly contemporary to ancient Egyptian.
P.S. Looks from the previous post that your seeds are off to a great start.

The Tablescaper said...

Looks like you had a wonderful day! What an amazing place. It would be neat if you linked this to Seasonal Sundays this Sunday.

- The Tablescaper

leavesnbloom said...

It would have taken me at least a whole day in there - art is just so evocative - you never know where a painting is going to bring you to in your mind. Such a very inspiring place to visit especially with the egyptian artifacts.

Cottage Garden said...

What a fabulous museum Eileen. It reminds me of the Egyptian and Ancient Civilisation Rooms in the British Library.

I'm not so keen on contemporary art. I always find it difficult to assess and understand but the time capsule dome looks interesting.