The Field Museum is Chicago’s own museum of natural history. It happens to rank as one of the largest of its type in the world. With over 24 million specimens in its portfolio, anything less than all day is just a cursory look.
The Natural World
Our schedule only allowed for a short visit, so we planned to dedicate it to the main floor. We hoped that we would be able to get a good feel for the quality of the exhibits. A future visit would obviously be needed to allow a deeper exploration. We began our tour with a visit to the Nature walk area. This is part of a larger section dedicated to animals from a wide variety of habitats. The entire section takes up half of an entire floor of the museum. As we strolled past glass enclosed displays, we were treated to views of animals common and rare.
Looking at all of these exhibits gave us a closer view of the wonderful creatures that inhabit our planet. While many of these we have seen at other museums, some were new to us. This part of the museum is almost maze-like, and we did find ourselves doubling back one time. Toward the end of this section of the Field Museum, we came to a part focused on exploring the anatomy and physiology of animals. Here visitors can experience more hands-on displays. We were even able to find an interactive exhibit that allowed me to fit into a barnacle colony. Not sure this would be a long term goal of mine.
Digging Up The Past at the Field Museum
One of the areas we were hoping to have time to explore was the Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit. This starts with a climb up the outside of a recreated burial chamber, before working your way inside. The premise is that you are in search of the treasures inside, including the highly desired mummy. It’s nice to have a background story to go with the exhibit, as it helps draw the visitors in. Soon you find yourself inside the pyramid, and working your way through the maze of rooms. Each room holds another key to your search. In one area there is a glass panel in the floor, which gives a small glimpse into the treasure held below.
At first we didn’t even realize that we had descended to the lower floor of the museum. We found ourselves so wrapped up in the storyline, that we lost track of our location. Fortunately, this exhibit is pretty well set in a single direction, so it would be hard to double back without realizing. Placards kept us informed on the status of our search, as well as supplying interesting facts on this unique burial method. Soon we came across a sign we had feared all along. Grave robbers had already been here. With our hopes dashed we journeyed on.
Odd Rituals Explained
With no hope of finding our target prize, we were pleasantly surprised when we turned a corner and came upon additional displays. A wide variety of sarcophagi were found on display with various replica statues and even an x-ray of a child’s mummy. Nearby we found treasures and artwork displayed to highlight what was buried with the dead. All of these items had increased our interest level enough that we were eager to know how the mummification process worked.
As we proceeded our curiosity would be satisfied. In a large chamber we found a series of miniature dioramas. These highlighted the steps taken during mummification. It was amazing the detail that each showed. It would be easy to determine exactly what was happening at each stage, even without the informative cards. With this knowledge in tow, we headed through the pyramid doorway into the last area.
Here we found a replica of the building that would have been found during the era of mummies in ancient Egypt. There were other symbolic artifacts in this area, including this statue of a seated lioness. Evidently felines were held in high regard in Egypt.
That’s a Big Bug
Since we were already on the lower floor, we decided we had time for one more section. The Field Museum has general admission exhibits, as well as specially ticked areas. Underground Adventure is one of the exhibits that carries an additional charge. The premise of this exhibit is to show the underground world in an oversized scenario. This was quite apparent when we spotted a replica of a penny that was about five feet tall. It looked like we were in for some extra-large fun.
Studying science in school was nothing like this in our days. Most of us know the basics of germination and root development. It’s a little different when you see it on such an excessive scale. It’s not hard to imagine yourself the size of an ant, as you walk past the various dioramas. The bugs were familiar ones that we see in our own yards. We had just never imagined them at quite this size. Our time was drawing to a close, so we had to hurry through this area. We are sure that this will certainly be a kid favorite.
We made our way back to the main floor, and off to the museum store to peruse the souvenir options. Here we found a wide variety of the items at most museum shops. One theme resonated here, as well as other areas of the Field Museum. Dinosaurs are king at this museum, and it is quite apparent as soon as you enter the building. In the main hall you will see Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Sue measures over 40 feet long, and they have her displayed in a fashion that shows it off to the max. This most complete T-Rex skeleton in existence is almost complete. Of course, they keep her real skull in another exhibit. That is because it weighs so much it would be unsafe to attempt to attach it to this display. Of course visitors can visit the skull exhibit and actually see it from every angle.
Our time had come to an end, and we bid farewell to the Field Museum. Our hope is to return for another, even longer visit. Even with all we saw, we still missed half of the main level, and the entire upper level. If you add in all of the traveling exhibits, we may just need to block off two days on our next trip. Tickets for general admission are $36.00 for adults, and $31.00 for seniors and students (I.D. required). Children 3 to 11 get a reduction to $25.00. These prices may seem steep, but if you plan appropriately you can get a full day of entertainment for your money.