In my former life, I was an elementary school teacher. (And by former life, I mean from 2007 – 2010, so not really that long ago.) During my brief teaching career, one of my favorite things to do was to get my students outside the classroom — learning things, engaging with the world around them, and making their own discoveries. Perhaps it’s because that’s the way I like to learn.
It’s not entirely unlikely that I studied education in school because I just plain love to learn. So when the opportunity presented itself to return to one of my favorite places in Chicago, the Field Museum, I couldn’t turn it down. Prior to my visit, all I knew about the Chicago World’s Fair was that I’d seen a statue from it on the Chicago Half Marathon route. So pretty much nothing. I arrived at the museum last Saturday excited and ready to learn!
I did my homework ahead of time, so I had the Field Museum mobile app downloaded and ready to go on my iPhone. I was on the lookout for the little QR codes to scan, but honestly pretty skeptical about the app itself. Imagine my surprise when I found my first code to scan.
And it was SO cool! This sign, right outside the entrance to the World’s Fair exhibit, created a 180-degree panoramic image. I could move around with my phone and see different sights from the fair — as if they were right in front of me. I wasn’t totally sold on the app yet, but was excited to check out the rest of the exhibit and see what it had in store.
As I walked in and read all of the information, I was surprised to learn that the Field Museum was originally created for the sole purpose of housing artifacts from the 1893 World’s Fair. All of the artifacts in the exhibit belong to the museum, but are usually stored away and not on display. I was blown away by all the new-to-me artifacts, and it made me wonder what other neat things the museum has in storage!
My favorite was an artifact that is unidentified. Museum lore says that the item below was used to turn the lights on and off at the fair, but no experts have been able to determine its actual use. Do any of you have any ideas? It almost looks like an engine of some kind to me.
Another favorite was a gigantic dinosaur femur. I debated climbing in there to take a selfie with it — just so you could get a better idea of how massive it is. I figured I’d probably get kicked out of the museum, or at the very least get in trouble, so I decided to behave myself. It’s huge. Just know that.
I also loved seeing art, tapestries, and artifacts from all around the world. It was interesting to me that many of the things that were seen as beautiful and incredible back in 1893 were just as impressive in 2013. I thought that was kind of neat.
When I finally exited the World’s Fair exhibit, head spinning with knew knowledge, I logged into the app once again to check out the Fair Tour. This is when the app really won me over. It directed me to other places in the museum where I could find artifacts from the fair, and with a quick scan of the QR code, it would provide additional information. It felt like a little scavenger hunt around the museum, and it helped me connect the dots between exhibits. I bet it’d be really fun to explore with kids, too!
The exhibit is open until September 7, 2014, so you’ve got some time to start planning your visit to Chicago to check it out. I mean, just look at that skyline, you guys.
I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.