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Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Field Museum

Was there a time when taking your kids to the museum was fun? A time before $15 parking fees? A time when you didn't have to stand in a line which snaked back and forth 7 times like you were waiting to get into a ride at Disney? A time when you didn't have to mortgage your house just to get into the place (and use the bathroom)? When you didn't have to pay extra to see the "good" exhibits? When you didn't have to push and shove through throngs of people just to allow your kids to get a glimpse of picture on a wall that you paid an extra four dollars per person to see?

I don't remember. I also don't remember the last time I went to the Field Museum in Chicago. I think it was some time in the 90's, when my older kids were still into dinosaurs, and when we thought it would be cool to drive 2 hours so they could get a gander at some prehistoric skeletons.

Nowadays they'd rather spend their time playing computer games, so we have to (literally in a few cases) drag them out of the house to get them to go on this kind of trip. Nevertheless, we packed our cooler full of tuna sandwiches, filled up the PTMobile, and headed south.

After trying to decide which was the lesser of two evils, i.e. wait on line and pay for admission, or sneak over to the membership line and become partial owners of the museum, we chose the latter. A cool $100 later we were ready to head to...



...the bathroom. Seriously, after 2 hours of driving and waiting in line, this was our first stop. The kids mostly waited for us while I suspect the Mrs. had to wait in yet another line for an available stall.

Then, feeling the pressure of "we just paid $100 for admission, and an extra $4 per person for the special exhibit", we decided to get in line to see...



...Pompeii. This was actually a pretty cool exhibit about the volcanic destruction of the city of Pompeii by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 (or CE 79 for those of you who care). I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I weren't competing with hundreds of other people for glimpses of the various artifacts and dioramas. It seems often I would push and shove my way through just in time to give The PT a view of a cast of a woman who had died in some ghastly manner. The exhibit was truly terrifying in many respects and I actually did learn a lot about volcanoes and Pompeii. I'd recommend it, but try to go at more of an off-peak time.

From there we went to see the new exhibit on Chinese Dinosaurs (seriously), where we were treated to the assembled skeletons of such beasts as Szechuanosaurus and Sweetandsourasaurus (not so seriously).

OK, now take a look at this:



They were trying to tell me that in life, this collection of bones looked like this:



I'll tell you what this looked like to me. It looked like there were extra bones that they didn't know what to do with. This is very likely what it would be like if I tried to assemble a motorcycle without directions. Guys, I really think you didn't put all the pieces together the right way.

From there, we went to an exhibit where we were magically shrunk down to the size of a small insect and stuck underground.

And I think the main point of this exhibit was that you never want to be magically shrunk down to the size of a small insect and stuck underground, because it's disgusting and dangerous down there. Seriously, I think the best thing we can try to teach our children is how many filthy, slimy, and and repulsive things there are slithering around in any given cubic inch of dirt. They will never want to play outdoors again.

From there, we turned to some of the older, more politically incorrect exhibits, like this Pawnee Earth Lodge.

Where I just had to snap a few shots for Wickwire.

We had a very Brady afternoon.

As we passed through the halls, I noticed a sign for The Auschwitz Album, and at first I didn't want to go in. The point of the afternoon was to have fun with the kids, and this didn't strike me as a fun thing to do. But somehow I found myself going there anyway. I have to say I wasn't that impressed with it. I didn't see anything I hadn't already seen before, or had described in more graphic and gut-wrenching ways by books like Maus or my mother's own Holocaust story. Still, there was something about the exhibit that made it difficult for me to keep my eyes dry. The point seemed to be to follow several individuals from their arrival at Auschwitz to their death in the gas chamber. The fact that names were assigned to people in the pictures made it more chilling, as you could follow them along their route to death. But somehow...it wasn't as horrible as it should have been.

I've read that Hungarian Jews were exterminated so quickly that they didn't have time to turn into the familiar, emaciated images we typically associate with concentration camp victims. That may be the case here. They look relatively normal up until we see the notation regarding who was killed. But maybe there was something about seeing these big pictures of the place where my grandparents died that made me emotional. I had to leave.

Fortunately, the exhibit was right next to a standing exhibit depicting a Maori meeting house, so I was able to get this beautiful shot of The PT:

So, after this, we left and decided to go out for dinner. Fear not, those of you with small children! You may not believe it now, but there will come a day when you will be able to go out to eat with your kids and actually sit down and enjoy a meal with them like mentchin, without having to pre-feed them or chase them around the restaurant! Have hope!

34 comments:

Robbie said...

I went to the Field a few weeks ago - just before Pompeii opened. We only got to see the dinosaurs, which, I think were pretty sad, as compared to other museums.

Ezzie said...

I think in Cleveland, you can pay just to go to the Omnimax without paying for the Science Center. That's a bit better, I guess...

Sorry, as a former student of a certain school, I couldn't help but :::GASP::: at the interesting trousers your son was wearing. Could those be... "jeans"?!!? :) [Actually, didn't they have school?]

Doctor Bean said...

Siouxie & The Banshees' song "City in Dust" is all about the Pompei disaster, and I kinda like it.

It looks like the brood mostly survived the trip. By the way, did you find out why the people standing behind the PT in the picture in the Maori house are having seizures?

Ayelet said...

Um, Dr. Bean, in my humble non-medical opinion, I think they were spazzing out because of PT's photography skills. A little too much shake for the camera to handle.

PT - My fave is the first pic with The PT hidden behind the map. That is so reminiscent of my own childhood family trips - we were all total map geeks. Still are, for that matter. Those genes are clearly apparent in my eldest's penchant for maps. He sleeps with a world map, a NYC subway map, and a mini globe tucked in at his side.

ball-and-chain said...

Yeah, we took the Bean clan out to dinner. The oldest Bean child actually said "I feel sorry for the waiter." The baby (actually she's two) merely screamed "I WANT FISH BALLS AND KETCHUP" over and over and over to the amusement of the other patrons. On second thought, maybe it wasn't amusement.

Doctor Bean said...

Ayelet: Oooooooooooooh.

PsychoToddler said...

Robbie: You have to find a good time to go when there are no mobs. Maybe weekdays?

Ezzie: Any similarity between that boy and a certain student at a certain Black Hat yeshiva is strictly coincidental...

Bean and Ayelet: Actually, Dr. Bean is closer to the truth. Notice how the PT is extremely unblurred in that picture, for a change. It is everyone else who is moving like a bunch of insane lunatics.

Yes, the PT is definitely a map person. But a word of advice--don't follow her directions.

BAC: Fishballs and Ketchup? Girl, what you feedin dat kid?

Ayelet said...

PT - I'm sorry, again. I don't know what's gotten into me...

wanderer said...

We had a very Brady afternoon.

I love it! Couldn't think of a better way to sum it up...

Shira Salamone said...

". . .there will come a day when you will be able to go out to eat with your kids and actually sit down and enjoy a meal with them like mentchin, without having to pre-feed them or chase them around the restaurant!"

Oh, brother, have I ever been there and done that! The last time my son pulled a sit-down strike on the restaurant floor rather than consent to sit down and my husband tried to yank him out of the servers' way, the wildteh-kindt/wild child ended up with a dislocated elbow! For the following two years, we ate out at family-friendly fast-food restaurants only. I'm happy to report that our wilteh-kindt is now a completely civilized young man.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Did someone say dinosaurs?

A Simple Jew said...

PT: I look forward to the days you describe...days where the kids don't insist on pulling the lids of their cups and spilling the contents on their laps.

Essie said...

Looks like a very fun family outing. I was stuck at home all day yesterday due to lots and lots of white stuff coming down from the heavens...

PsychoToddler said...

wanderer: I was really waiting for a chance to tell somebody my Indian name, but oddly, nobody asked.

Shira, ASJ: I was as shocked as anyone to discover that I had crossed the magical threshold. Especially given the name of this blog. A real mechayeh.

Steg: C'mon, man, CHINESE dinosaurs...it doesn't get any better than that.

PsychoToddler said...

essie: that reminds me, I need to call my mother.

Stacey said...

Sounds like a really good day. I would have loved to have seen the Pompeii exhibit.

Next time you drive through Cleveland, you should stop at the Museum of Natural History. It has a really great T. Rex.

And re: going out to dinner....my youngest turns 2 next month. We haven't been to a restaurant in probably a year with her. And oh, how I miss that!! Ever since she started walking there is just NO WAY!! Sigh.

cruisin-mom said...

Looks like a good day, P.T. ...very Brady? Where was Alice?

Wickwire said...

When we went to the zoo 3 years ago, I was annoyed by everyone getting in our space. It was more like going to the zoo to look at the back of other peoples heads. I didn't remember it being like that before.

The Pawnee earth lodge, that's a good place to reannounce your Indian name Xw dob’ obz bu dolth’ just get that dead Pawnee man away from that tipi.

Mrs. Balabusta said...

I think it was a good day, the kids did rather well.

Overall, I think the museum is overrated. Museums, not unlike a few people I could mention here, spend a lot of time collecting things before they figure out what they are going to do with them. For example, if you stopped the average guy on the street, and asked him how much he would pay to see Chinese Dinosaur bones, I think we could have avoided the whole thing.

Taken on the whole, 90% of the things in the museum were collected before 1920, in an effort to show the masses how the other masses lived. Since we now have the History Channel (which by the way costs less than admission to the museum), I think the museum is more or less obsolete.

What nice about the museum is you can browse, or channel surf if you prefer. The other thing that is nice is that you can pay them and take the whole family there on a vacation outing and you can't do that with cable.

Of course, you also don't need a map.

PsychoToddler said...

It was more like going to the zoo to look at the back of other peoples heads.

Exactly.

Hey, there was a giant PT next to that TP. Maybe she killed the Pawnee dude.

dilbert said...

and you didnt even mention what must have been the best part of the trip, seeing one of your blogging friends at the restaurant. We try to take the kids to one of the museums/planetariums/overpriced nature places one sunday a month. Usually if you join one, they sometimes give you a break on the others. On the other hand, Lincoln Park Zoo is Free. :-)

Mazel tov on reaching the age of adequate dining decorum. May you have the zechus to have many more years of culinary ha'na'ah, and ultimately be able to escort your children to the cloth covered tables, where they will establish a place setting in Israel, with properly chosen salad forks and dessert spoons, and let us all say, Hamotzi. Can we throw the chicken nuggets now?

PsychoToddler said...

Oh, yeah, and uh, I ran into Dilbert at Ken's Diner.

Maybe we should coordinate a trip one of these Sundays?

dilbert said...

that would be great. I will be the one explaining to the incredulous person at the Shedd aquarium desk that my immediate family includes 2 adult men, 2 adult women, and 8 children, and that we all get in under the family plan.

PsychoToddler said...

I love the aquarium! Would it help if I stood on my knees? And, uh, shaved the beard?

Hey, do you have a membership at the planetarium? Do I, now that I have one at the Field? That would be really cool.

Tzipster91 said...

Hey, our family liked the Field museum. Very different style from the Science Centre (Canajun spelling) here in Toronto. And we went to the same place for dinner!
Why didn't you guys come then?

tuesdaywishes said...

We got into the Field Museum for free, I think because the Pompeii exhibit wasn't there yet and they were removing some other exhibit in that space. (Also it was the middle of the week.)One of the coolest things about that place is the "spin". When these things, like mummies and Indian pottery and other stuff were collected, (remember the Field goes back about 100 years) they were like "Look at these interesting artifacts created by primitive people". Now, after a couple of decades of being called names for robbing other countries' cultural heritage, it's "Let us demonstrate the glorious cultures of Africa".

And the dinosaurs at the Milwaukee Public Museum are way cooler.

PsychoToddler said...

The dinosaurs at the Milwaukee museum are cooler because they are part of a fleshed-out diorama. Here's a picture. However, as time goes by and conventional wisdom regarding dinosaurs changes, ie how they looked, how they walked, etc, the Milwaukee exhibit is becoming increasingly dated.

There's a certain scientific purity associated with unembellished skeletons. Except for that one up in my post. That's just ridiculous.

Sweettooth120 said...

See, if all you guys just move to my neck of the woods, ALL the museums are FREE including the ZOO!

My fave pic of PT lita, is the very last one. She has really grown.

PsychoToddler said...

Yeah, her sister Fudge hasn't seen her for a few weeks. She told me her legs are longer.

Kiwi the Geek said...

Mrs. B, you can learn a lot from the History Channel, but nothing beats seeing the artifacts up close, in 3-D. Not even HDTV.

Out of curiosity, PT, do Jews such as yourselves believe in the literal creation story?

PsychoToddler said...

Surely by now you must realize there are no Jews like me.

Kiwi the Geek said...

See, now this is why I keep hangin' around you, you make me laugh every day!

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Are museums ruined by the lines and the price more than amusement parks?

PsychoToddler said...

Don't get me started on Amusment Parks!