4 Chicago attractions to enjoy now

 

The Windy City can hang on to a good thing for its residents and visitors, but some of its attractions are temporary. This spring is an ideal time to see two unique, temporary exhibits, experience a performance that has lasted two decades, and learn more (while eating well) about the oldest grand hotel that has been in continuous operation in the U.S. since shortly after the Great Chicago Fire

Chicago Skyline

Van Gogh painted three versions of his famous Bedroom in his yellow house in Arles, France. They were displayed separately in Amsterdam, Paris, and Chicago. Now, for the first time, the three paintings hang together in the Art Institute of Chicago until the exhibit ends May 10. The exhibit will not be a traveling one. A curator noted: We cannot deprive art lovers living in or traveling to Amsterdam and Paris of this important facet of Van Gogh. Thus, this is the only opportunity to see the three paintings together.

While the paintings appear almost identical, when examined closely each reveals distinct and unique details. A digitally enhanced reconstruction of his bedroom allows viewers to grasp the physical reality of the space that so inspired him. Large slides show the differences in portions of each of the paintings. The exhibit features 36 works by the artist, including paintings, drawings, and illustrated letters as well as a selection of books and other objects known to have been in his possession. Recent scientific research on the three Bedroom paintings give a keener understanding of his longing for a place of his own.

Van Gogh bedrooms exhibit

You can re-visit Downton Abbey through Memorial Day at the Richard H.Driehaus Museum, 40 East Erie Street, Chicago. The costumes are displayed on manikins in the elegant rooms of this late 19th Century mansion. The Dowager Countess of Grantham oft-seen purple two-piece day dress looks right at home in the mansion. She wore purple because she was in permanent half-mourning for family members killed in the Titanic disaster.

Lady Mary Crawley frequents many rooms: here in her riding habit and hat, there in the evening dress she wore before that shocking event with the Turkish diplomat. All the main characters are represented including Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson both looking ready unpack your suitcases. Perhaps the most striking are the evening dress with a Bohemian feel worn by Virginia Woolf paired with Lady Sybil Crawley in her velvet maternity dress with gold embroidered borders worn when she and Branson returned to Downton with their surprise announcement.

High tea is served by footmen in the garden-inspired setting of the Murphy Auditorium adjacent to the museum. Three seatings are offered each day and require advance tickets. Visits to the exhibition are timed so you can visit the Crawleys as if you are holding an invitation handwritten on quality stationery.

Dressing Downton Exhibit

The Palmer House is the oldest U.S. hotel in continual operation and one of the 26 surviving grand hotels in the United States. It first opened in 1871, just 13 days before the Great Chicago Fire gutted it. Rebuilt in 1873, it has not seen a day without guests. Nearly all U.S. presidents have stayed here as well as dignitaries, royalty, and Hollywood stars.

The hotel shares its history in their History is Hott tour led by the hotel historian. The tour begins with an elegant lunch in the award-winning Lockwood Restaurant and Bar. Dessert is the brownie invented by the wife of the original owner. She wanted to serve a chocolate sweet that would not melt on white gloves worn by every woman who aspired to be a lady.

Guests then move to the hotel museum where the historian gives and in-depth history of the hotel and displays artifacts including the few remaining items from the fire. The tour continues through areas off limits to the public and insider information about how high society behaved in the Gilded Age and its hushed scandals.

Palmer House Lobby

The Blue Man Group is a world-famous show that combines music, technology, and comedy to create a form of entertainment that defies categorization and appeals to people of all ages. It is a multisensory experience with a humorous welcome for late comers. Each week, the show uses 50 gallons of paint, 32 pounds of Jell-O, 8 boxes of dry, sweet cereal, 385 marshmallows, 44 boxes of Twinkies, and 444 mashed bananas in ways that cannot be imagined until you see the performance. It is described as the following: an enemy of monotony, remedy for boredom, promoter of overjoy and elation.

Blue Man Group has been performing for years at Briar Street Theater, 3133 North Halsted. The three Blue Men and their invisible band are quite at home at the beautifully designed, 300-seat theater, which was formerly the stable for the horses owned by Marshall Field.

Blue Man Group

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