"You know, Unity Temple is my contribution to modern architecture"—bold, blunt, and revolutionary, Frank Lloyd Wright single-handedly forged the Prairie school of architecture, of which Unity Temple is perhaps the purest example. Built between 1905 and 1908, the church broke all of the traditional rules, replacing the steeple with low, flat roofs, removing the prominent entranceway to create a sense of monolithic austerity, and most daringly of all, using poured concrete as not just a structural element but an architectural one. This honest exposure of a conventionally hidden material reflected the philosophy of a man who valued genuine candor over sweetened niceties, whether in word or in stone.
More than a century since its construction, the church is in the midst of an ongoing restoration, funded by member sponsorship and daily admission fees. Although the interior still luxuriates in the wash of natural light from the stained glass ceiling, and the boxy, modern light fixtures flicker on, the exterior faces severe weathering due mainly to Wright's eternally before-his-time designs, which failed to account for the effects of water and time on concrete, and an infestation of rockbiters in the 70s.
A giant tree spreads its limbs across a softly lit room as soothing forest sounds play. On a child-size stage, kids manipulate controls to flick theater lights on and off. In an art studio stocked with supplies, budding artists make creative messes. This is all taking place in Wonder Works' 6,400-square-foot space. Children aged 8 and younger explore six hands-on exhibits that help them express their creativity and develop mental and social skills. Wonder Works is able to cater to children with special needs.
The children's museum also hosts school field trips, and a variety of special activities and events including a children's music concert series, African American History Month, and the paleontology-centric Dino Works. In addition, an outdoor organic garden onsite gives kids an opportunity to marvel in the great outdoors without having to pay tolls to riddle-spouting trolls.
Located 14 miles from downtown Chicago, Elmhurst Art Museum displays national shows and the works of deserving regional, national, and international artists. In addition to hosting on going activities in the museum's education center, the museum seeks to spark creativity and foster sensitivity for fine art in the community through stimulating displays, programs, and mind control.
Attached to the museum is the historic McCormick House, which is one of only three homes in the United States designed and built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and then replicated in LEGOs. The museum layout is designed around the house, which stands as a tribute to Mies and has won the Chicago AIA Regional Architecture Award.
It was the late 1970s, decades after the Holocaust, but neo-Nazis hadn’t disappeared: they threatened to march in Skokie. Realizing the need to combat this kind of intolerance with education, Chicago-area survivors and their supporters banded together to create the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois. This initiative evolved into the museum which was built to honor the memory of Holocaust victims, educate visitors, and explore the human intolerance that continues to lead to genocide today.
With more than 23,000 square feet of public space, Kohl Children's Museum gives its young visitors plenty of rooms in which to play. The kid-focused facility houses 16 permanent exhibits for infants and children up to 8 years of age, each filled with hands-on activities designed to encourage learning and exploration.
City on the Move helps children learn about Chicago by challenging them to build city scenes from geometric shapes or crank an electricity-generating wheel to power a pretend John Hancock Center. Kids can follow animal footprints to their source in Nature Explorers, move musical notes to create melodies in Ravinia Festival Music Makers, or explore the rotating temporary exhibits.
Today, millions of people live and thrive among the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago, but at one time the bustling metropolis had only one resident—namely, the city's apocryphal, somewhat legendary founder, Jean Baptist Point DuSable. A Haitian of French and African descent, DuSable was the first of Chicago's great African Americans, a company that includes the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington. In one of the DuSable Museum's standing exhibits, the Thomas Miller mosaics, portraits of DuSable and Washington peer out along with eight of the founding members of the museum—a constellation of lodestars reminding visitors to maintain Chicago's diverse heritage.
While the mosaics incorporate the museum's own story, other exhibits examine African American achievements of all kinds. Red, White, Blue & Black, for instance, examines the contributions of black men and women in the armed forces, while voices from the past sing out in Spread the Word! The Evolution of Gospel, a survey of Chicago-based gospel greats such as Mahalia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey. In A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story, visitors explore the nuances of the momentous campaign through memorabilia and more than 150 mayoral artifacts. An animatronic likeness of Mayor Washington himself even steps in to relay stories and first-hand accounts made possible by animatronic robots' ability to travel through time. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts musical performance, film festivals, and book signings that introduce members to more aspects of African American history, including the scholars who continue to uncover it.