Archive for the ‘museums’ Category

An unexpectedly grand trip

 

Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids reconnects the past. (Photos by Jodie Jacobs

Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids reconnects the past. (Photos by Jodie Jacobs

 

Picture a Midwestern river town that celebrates a favorite son with a presidential museum, its furniture history with a public museum, its appreciation of sculpture with an amazing garden and appreciation of art with a mega fall fair that awards half a million dollars in prizes.

Grand Rapids, Mi., a former U.S. furniture hub on the Grand River and childhood home of Gerald R. Ford is fun to visit year round. But come in the fall when the colors paint the scenery and  ArtPrize paints the town. An art fair where the public gets to votes and thus, choose where some of the prize money goes, ArtPrize attracts artists from across the globe and visitors from across North America.

 

Sometimes ArtPrize works can be seen in the Grand River and on its bridges.

Sometimes ArtPrize works can be seen in the Grand River and on its bridges.

 

Unlike fine art exhibits that are confined indoors to one museum or outside to a single city plaza or street, ArtPrize blankets Grand Rapids from banks to bistros and breweries to bridges.

Because works are displayed throughout the city visitors walk through buildings and neighborhoods they may not normally get to on a brief vacation.

For ArtPrize 2018, the numbers as of mid-August were 1,417 artists working on 1,271 entries at 166 venues. The event runs from Sept. 19 through Oct. 7.

Among the places that have been venues in past years but are destinations anyway to put on the must visit list are the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Public Museum across the road from it downtown on the river and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on the eastern outskirts of town.

 

This opera house is on an old Grand Rapids street inside the PUblic Museum

This opera house is on an old Grand Rapids street inside the Public Museum.

 

At the Ford Presidential Museum learn more about Watergate and Ford’s time in Congress, in the White House and at the University of Michigan. The museum is at 303 Pearl St. NW. Gerald Ford and wife Betty are buried on the grounds.

Cross the road to the Public Museum, 272 Pearl St., NW  to browse through rooms of native American artifacts, treasured examples from when the town was the US furniture hub, stroll through some old Grand Rapids streets, sit at consoles as an astronaut and ride a 1928 Spillman Carousel.

Save time to visit the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

 

Sown a Sculpture Park path look for a Henry Moore.

Sown a Sculpture Park path look for a Henry Moore.

 

Amble through the Sculpture Park and inside the main building to discover more than 200 pieces by well-known artists. Around every curve in the path come across works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Jean Arp, Richard Hunt Anish Kapoor, Claes Oldenburg, Jaume Plensa and other pieces to photograph and put on Facebook or Instagram.

There is also a terrific children’s garden that adults would love and a peaceful Japanese Garden.  The Meijer Gardens are at 1000 East Beltline Ave NE.

 

BTW Grand Rapids is a good stop on the way up to Traverse City or when doing a triangle that includes Holland and Grand Haven, MI.

 

 

 

 

Where to be August 21 in 2017

 

If standing in the right place at the right time, your world will start to get cooler as the sun seems to disappear. Then, it will be dark and chilly. And no, you won’t be watching a sci-fi movie or be experiencing the end of the world as described in mythology. You will be experiencing a total solar eclipse.

The Adler Planetarium's "Chasing Eclipses" exhibit simulates a total solar eclipse that includes the cooling air and sounds. Jodie Jacobs photos

The Adler Planetarium’s “Chasing Eclipses” exhibit simulates a total solar eclipse that includes the cooling air and sounds. Jodie Jacobs photos

Unless you plan to be in the south Pacific or South America on Dec. 14, 2020 or in Dallas, Indianapolis or Cleveland, April 8, 2024, your best bet to experience a total solar eclipse is in the United States Aug. 21, 2017 along a diagonal path from  Salem, Oregon in the northwest through Carbondale, IL in the Midwest to Charleston, South Carolina in the southeast.

 

Direct Time and Place

In the Midwest, people who travel to Carbondale in southern Illinois will see the moon totally blocking the sun for about 2 minutes and 41.6 sec. It’s actually safe to look when the sun is totally covered then. but not before or afterwards. If you don’t think that’s a long time to be in the dark try watching a clock tick off the seconds.

Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University,  is one of the best places to go to because of the long blockage beginning at 1:20 p.m. CDT and because it is one of NASA’s official sites. The Adler will have an event in Carbondale where astronomers and eclipse chasers will converge. Total coverage last about 2 minutes and 42 seconds.

You can draw your own line on a map from Salem, OR to Charleston, SC to see what other towns are in the eclipse path. Even though the blockage won’t be as long as in Carbonadale they will have a total eclipse. The towns along the path are all expecting visitors so are hosting eclipse events.

For example for Oregon visit Salem, Madras and Oregon for festivals, where to stay and what to do. If near Salem the eclipse is at 10:19 a.m. PDT and lasts 2 min, 4 sec.

For Carbondale, go to SIU. Totality there happens at 1:20 CDT.  Also check out Charleston where the eclipse ends on US soil. Charleston is in the dark for about one minute, 40 seconds. For other places in South Carolina visit Great American Eclipse SC .

Accommodations have been going fast along the eclipse path so if planning to travel to a city where there will be total darkness don’t wait to find a place to stay whether camping or looking for an inn.

 

Chicago

Those places mentioned are dead center on the path but that doesn’t mean you wont have a great eclipse moment several miles away.

At the Adler's "Chasing Eclipses" exhibit, astronomer Larry Ciupik points out where Carbondale is on the 2017 eclipse path that goes from left to right. It is bisected by the eclipse path that will run from southeast to north west in 2024.

At the Adler’s “Chasing Eclipses” exhibit, astronomer Larry Ciupik points out where Carbondale is on the 2017 eclipse path that goes from left to right. It is bisected by the eclipse path that will run from southeast to north west in 2024.

In Chicago, the moon will begin blocking the sun about 11:54 a.m.CDT,  reach maximum coverage about 1:30 p.m. and be all the way through by 2:30 p.m.

“While it won’t be absolute total blockage in Chicago, the city will experience a 90 percent eclipse,” said Adler Planetarium astronomer Larry Ciupik. And that is with Chicago located about a six and a half hour drive north of Carbondale.

Thousands of people are expected to join the Adler’s watching party, according to Ciupik. Proper glasses will be handed out until the supply is gone. For the Adler’s big eclipse bash visit Adler Eclipse. For official NASA viewing sites visit NASA Event Locations.

 

Safety

It’s not OK to look while the moon is moving across the sun even when a little bit of the sun is peeking out. Looking at the sun when there is not total blockage will damage the eyes. See NASA for more eclipse information and NASA Safety for viewing tips.

You have to use certified glasses to watch. Another way is to look at the events shadow on the ground by turning your back to the sun and making a peep hole with your hands, one in front of the other as described on the NASA safety site.

 

So take advantage of the event by making it a summer vacation but don’t wait to make arrangements.

 

 

 

 

Five Memorial Day Weekend ideas

Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo

Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo

Say Memorial Day to some folks and the response is it’s the time to commemorate people who died while in military service. To others it signifies the beginning of summer vacation.

On some town’s websites are parades, ceremonies and even a history note explaining that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and started shortly after the Civil War.

On others, it begins the period from the end of May through Labor Day when beaches are open, lifeguards are on duty, several outdoor fests and tourist activities take place and bus routes are added.

Five suggested Memorial Day Weekend activities in the Chicago area range from fireworks and festivals to a parade and party plus there’s a bus route bonus.

 

Parade

The City of Chicago is holding a Wreath Laying ceremony in Daley Plaza at Dearborn and Washington Streets at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 27, 2017.  It will be followed by a parade that starts at noon from nearby State and Lake Streets and travels south on State to Van Buren Street. The Grand Marshal is Marine Corps Commanding General Robert S. Walsh. The parade, among the country’s largest, includes veterans’ groups, marching bands and antique military vehicles. Visit Chicago for more info. The national Memorial Day remembrance is 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, 2017.   For an excellent government-based web-site with history and other info visit Government.

 

Parties

View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo

View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo

Chicago House Party – DJs and performers take over Millennium Park,’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion and North Chase Promenade Tent May 27, 2017, from 2 to 9 p.m. Expect a variety of “house music” a style started in Chicago that is danced to throughout the country. The grassy areas are good for picnics or dancing. For performer schedules check City of Chicago. Millennium Park is at Randolph through Monroe Parkways along Michigan Avenue.

 

ROOF on theWit, a fun space with great cocktails and views of the city is starting its JETSET s series May 26-27, 2017. The party transports  guests to Barcelona, Spain  minus the airline hassle. ROOF on theWit is 27 stories above the Wit Hotel at 201 N. State St. at Lake Street, Chicago. For reservations visit Roof. JetSet weekends start at 2pm.  For more information and reservations, visit Roof or call  (312) 239-9502.

 

 

Festivals

The Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest runs from noon to 10 p.m. May 27 and May 28, 2017. A street party that has been going on for more than 20 years, the fest attracts excellent bands, good food, beer and wine booths and also features arts and crafts. A $5 entry donation benefits the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. Entry is at 3200 N. Sheffield, Chicago. Vist Chicago Events for more information.

Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.

Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.

 

Celebrate “Mayfestiversary,” a block party at and around Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Rd. Dovetail is celebrating its first anniversary with Begyle Brewing which is marking the second  anniversary of its taproom. There will be food trucks,  live music and games. B elle Plaine Avenue will be closed from Ravensood to the CTA line. Part of proceeds benefit Foundations of Music.The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 27 and 28, 2017. For more information visit at Dovetail or call (773) 683-1414.

 

Fireworks

Navy Pier is always good for a holiday outing but the Chicago attraction restarts its summer fireworks display Saturday, May 27 at 10:15 p.m. Among the ways to celebrate the weekend is to cruise on the Spirit of Chicago or Odyssey or stop in at the Miller Lite Beer Garden to hear Hot Rocks do Rolling Stones tributes from 2 to 11:30 p.m. BTW the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism upstairs at Navy Pier is worth seeing.  Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. , Chicago, IL 800 )595-PIER (7437) For more information visit Navy Pier or call (800) 595-PIER (7437).

 

Bonus

The CTA’s No 10 Bus that goes to the Museum of Science and Industry starts again Memorial Day weekend. That means it will be easier to get there from downtown Chicago to see the terrific Robots  exhibit.

 

Three ways to take advantage of a long weekend

 

All of a sudden the long weekend that includes Presidents’ Day, the third Monday of February when schools and banks are close, is only a few days away.

What would have been a good time to fly south for a short, sunny break is likely going to be too difficult to book now. Airline flights and hotel rooms in places such as south Florida are typically at a premium that weekend, if still available.

However, instead of playing the “should-have” game, think of the weekend as a fun opportunity. The following suggestions work anywhere even though the examples given are for the Chicago area.

The Field has free general admission for Illinois residents Presidents' Day Weekend. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Field has free general admission for Illinois residents Presidents’ Day Weekend. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 

Take a “staycation”

Nowadays all hotels have a fitness center so that would no longer be a deciding point on where to take your weekend vacation. Think about what you most want to do. Shop? Visit museums? See art and architecture? Go to the theater? Do it all?

Next, how important is a pool? Few downtown Chicago hotels have pools but some have indoor lap pools. Even fewer have a pool where children can swim all year round.

You can keep the bathing suits in the suitcase you planned for a trip south if spending the weekend at The Intercontinental on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent (Shopping) Mile. It not only has a pool, it is historic and large. The spa and fitness area is now a part of the hotel pool area.

The hotel is nicely placed for a “staycation.” Walk north from the hotel for Michigan Avenue shops. Walk south and cross the Chicago River a few blocks to Millennium Park for ice skating and “Cloud Gate” better known as “The Bean.”  A little further south is the Art Institute of Chicago. You are in a great spot to appreciate downtown art and architecture.

Cross Michigan Avenue from the hotel to take a bus to the Museum Campus’ Field Museum,  Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium at the south end of Grant Park. All of February is free general admission for Illinois residents at the Field.  Presidents’ Day,  Feb. 20, is free admission to the Adler Planetarium and the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park.

The city is at you doorstep when you take a “staycation” downtown. Enjoy

 

Binge on Oscar nominated movies

Get a jump start on Oscar night, Feb. 26, 2017 by seeing the nominated movies at your local theater.

For the kids there are the animated features: “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Moana,” “My Life as a Zucchini,” The Red Turtle” and “Zootopia.”
Best Picture nominees are: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land, ”Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.” Most theaters offer advance tickets. The AMC theaters at Northbrook Court were recently remodeled with really comfortable seats and a bar to get drinks and food.

Or settle in with popcorn or pizza at home as you check Netflix or On Demand for past Oscar winners. Some are oldies. Others are just goodies.

 

Make a penguin and cupcake play date with friends

Lincoln Park Zoo Penguin Cove opens. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo Penguin Cove opens. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo

 

Go to a zoo or aquarium then forget the diet and splurge on cupcakes at places you’ve been meaning to try.

In Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo has a wonderful, new penguin center.  Or watch the penguins in their Polar Play Zone at the Shedd Aquarium.

For a dessert break pick up cupcakes at Sprinkles Cupcakes at 50 E Walton St. west of the Magnificent Mile. Or stop in at the Magnolia Bakery  at 108 N State St at Block 37.

 

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