Take advantage of your free time in Chicago while attending the Midwinter Meeting to explore the city’s noted museums. See the largest dinosaur fossil. Admire the work of world-class contemporary artists. Meet beluga whales, turtles, piranhas, Caribbean reef fish and penguins. You can even sleep overnight at the Shedd Aquarium if you’ve brought your 5- to 12-year-old child with you.
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Field Museum: At the noted natural history museum, meet SUE, whose bona fides include being the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. The famous fossil stretches 40.5-feet from tail to snout, is 13-feet high at the hip, and snarls open-mouthed, the better to show off her 58 pointed teeth. Additional Field highlights include a walk-through a replica of an ancient Egyptian tomb, a hall of ancient jade objects, and a working DNA lab.
Special exhibit: “Tattoo” explores the 5,000-year-old art form. Learn about the tools, techniques and cultural meanings of tattooing and peruse 15 life-size, elaborately decorated silicone torsos. Although the exhibit includes a working tattoo parlor with live clients being inked, no artists will be applying tattoos at the facility February 23 to 25. Through April 30, 2017.
Museum of Contemporary Art: This major contemporary art museum showcases art in all media from from the 1920s to the present. The permanent collection features works by Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, Robert Rauschenberg and many others. The building remains open during its current renovation to create more public space.
Special exhibits and events: “Riot Grrls” presents the work of 10 pioneering female artists. “In a challenge to the boys’ club sensibility that has historically shaped abstract painting, the female painters featured … achieve a level of mastery, innovation, and chutzpah that doesn’t need external validation,” reads the website. The artists include Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl, Judy Ledgerwood, and Joyce Pensato. Through June 18, 2017.
“Merce Cunningham: Common Time” is a retrospective of the world-renowned choreographer and his company that focuses on the artist’s multidisciplinary projects. Discover how Cunningham’s innovations in combining music, movement and art influenced modern dance and other artists. The exhibit contains videos, sets, costumes, Andy Warhol’s “Rainforest,” as well as Charles Atlas’s “MC9,” and video clips covering decades of Cunningham pieces. Through April 30, 2017.
At “Music for Merce,” former Cunningham collaborators present “slices” of Cunningham’s and his partner John Cage’s works. February 25 and February 26. Tickets required.
Shedd Aquarium: The aquarium features 32,000 creatures. Meet beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions, turtles, and schools of fish that live in a diversity of habitats.
Special event: Consider “Asleep with the Fishes,” February 24, 2017, if traveling with children ages 5 through 12. During this overnight at the museum, you and your budding oceanographer eat a pizza dinner, explore the exhibits after-hours, go on a scavenger hunt, watch a Caribbean Reef dive, create crafts, and listen to animal stories before bedding down at 11 p.m. in front of the giant tanks. Breakfast is at 7 a.m. and you depart the aquarium by 8:30 a.m. Overnight fees range from $75 to $100 per person. With a higher price ticket, you can bring air mattresses (recommended) and receive VIP seating for the presentations. You can attend the fun evening activities but return to your comfortable hotel room for $40 per person. Museum members receive discounts. Reserve tickets in advance.