In the rich and varied landscape of Chicago museums, one stands out among the rest: the Art Institute of Chicago. Named TripAdvisor’s top museum in the world in 2014, the AIC is home to more than 260,000 works of art, including its formidable (and highly trafficked) collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. But beneath the hoopla of these storied works—in fact, beneath the first level of the museum itself—lies a quirkier collection of European and American pieces. The Thorne Miniature Rooms present to-scale replicas of historical interiors. We sat down with the Lindsay Mican Morgan, the keeper of the rooms, to learn more about their origins and all-ages appeal.It's the Little Things That CountMican Morgan is deciding where she would live if a ray gun shrank her down to the rooms’ scale, where one inch represents one real-world foot.“I want to go to the modern rooms … the London nighttime scene [above] is gorgeous. But I think in reality, I would most enjoy some of the kitchens. I love all the pots and pans.”Mini kitchenwares made to scale, such as the ones in the 1752 Pennsylvania kitchen above, are just some of the gallery’s incredible, historically accurate details crafted by hand in the 1930s. To wit: one of the rooms boasts a gentleman’s secretary, complete with a drawer within a drawer and a key that really works. In others, viewers can just barely glimpse a side room through a doorway, but it’s fully furnished anyway. And tables throughout the rooms are scattered with in-progress checkers games or half-finished drinks.Despite their lived-in feel, one element is purposely omitted from every room: residents. According to Mican Morgan, it helps viewers, especially young ones, imagine themselves inside. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Mican Morgan to see kids in the gallery planning adventures in each room, or picking out the bed they would most like to sleep in.“I think the most charming thing is, sometimes I’ll hear [adults] talking about coming when they were a child,” says Mican Morgan. Mrs. James Ward Thorne, the dollhouse and miniatures enthusiast who commissioned the collection, gifted it to the museum in 1941. Since then, perusing the rooms that span specific eras and regions has become a cross-generational tradition for many.The History of the RoomsThe Great Depression was a stroke of luck for basically no one, except Mrs. Thorne. For a woman of her stature, it made her project extremely affordable—even commissioning custom mini couches—and allowed her to build one of the largest miniature collections on record.Her collection isn’t just large, though. It’s also accurate, thanks to Mrs. Thorne’s “a little outside the normal” passion for style and design, as well as her plentiful source material. When her tiny rooms were being built, World War I had just ended, and many of Europe’s struggling upper-class families were displaying their insular households to the public. Mrs. Thorne took to touring those homes and visiting American museums, where displays of period rooms were in vogue.In Mrs. Thorne’s era, even Queen Mary was so fascinated by miniatures that the English people gifted her an elaborate dollhouse complete with working plumbing. “Whatever the Queen does, every society lady wants to be involved in [it],” Mican Morgan notes. So it’s not a surprise that soon after, Mrs. Thorne and her team of master craftsmen began work on these now-famous miniature rooms.Mrs. Thorne's Enduring LegacyThe rooms are now decades old, and Mican Morgan reports that maintaining them is a challenging task, sometimes requiring tiny needlepoint. Arguably, the hardest part of Mican Morgan’s job is honoring the exacting vision Mrs. Thorne laid out in her sketches, which covered everything from each room’s particular layout to its lighting. “She was very specific about the time of day, the time of year. There was supposed to be a very specific type of lighting,” she says, which included natural lighting.Occasionally, hewing to Mrs. Thorne’s vision means that “romanticism trumps reality.” In the Pennsylvania kitchen above, for example, a gun complete with a powder horn is stored above the fireplace. “[It’s] a horrible idea, to have explosives over a fireplace,” Mican Morgan says, pointing to the small lapse from reality. But Mican Morgan doesn’t linger on it. In a collection that’s otherwise so perfect and intricate, the rogue powder horn is charming—and even humanizing.Photo: Mrs. James Ward Thorne, English Drawing Room of the Modern Period, 1930s, c. 1937. The Art Institute of Chicago. Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne.Read More
Billy Casper Golf Oak Forest
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Billy Casper Golf Oak Forest
Billy Casper Golf Oak Forest
Billy Casper Golf Oak Forest
Recently we invited 826CHI students into our office, and asked them to help us out with an unusual project. One that involved The Stars. The Chicago Public Schools students usually attend after-school tutoring at 826CHI, a local nonprofit, but our request was a little different from typical homework. We asked them to comment on celebrity style. If they didn’t, we explained, celebrities would never know what they looked like. So below, kids in grades 2–8 share their fashion-related thoughts on Mindy Kaling, Erykah Badu, Adrien Brody, and more. Spoiler: someone’s hair looks like river stones. But whose? Sammy Thomann (Grade 7) on Mindy Kaling The first thing that I like about this dress is that the colors work well together. The dark blue complements the light red. I also like that her hair looks really good. There are a few things I would change about this dress. I would make the top plain red and sleeveless, and the skirt wouldn’t have any ruffles or blue. I’d add some triangles of blue to the top on the sides and a skinny blue belt. The dress would come to knee length and the shoes would be plain dark blue. I’d lower the waistline of the skirt so it’s at her actual waist. Jazmin Campos (Grade 4) on Tilda Swinton This outfit is a hit. I like some parts of the outfit, but not all of them. I like how it is sewn together. The shapes on the shirt look like the outline of a ghost. While I don’t love the color gray, I like the gold sheen that reflects off of the gray. It is gold like a stinky, shiny goldfish. The pants are too long and she might trip and break a bone, even though she looks very tall like a giraffe. I don’t think I would wear it because it’s a bit too long. This outfit looks like it came from the future, where they will invent crazy hair. Her hair looks styled upwards. It looks like a closed flower blossom. She looks like she is going to a dinner party at a fancy restaurant, like Gourdanois, with other nice people. Or maybe she is the daughter of someone famous, but we don’t know who yet. We’ll have to wait and see! Maricarmen Gomez (Grade 7) on Erykah Badu Erykah Badu’s outfit is oversized, especially her sweater, her hat, and her earrings. The sweater is shaped like a cereal box, it’s the color of milk and looks like it is coated with sugary cereal. Her hat looks like a pencil eraser stuck on a giant dinner plate; maybe she traveled back in time and stole it from Abraham Lincoln and then painted it beige. The jumpsuit reminds me of a black manatee with its head chopped off. Speaking of the ocean, her earrings look like skinned fish. Katie Moy (Grade 3) on Will Ferrell I like this money suit. Will Ferrell looks like a millionaire. When other people wear this suit, they might be able to pretend that they’re a millionaire, too—maybe at Halloween, or a costume party. (But not when it’s too dark out. My mom told me not to wear black on Halloween. Some of this suit is black, but not much. It’s more greenish, because of the money.) Other people might think this costume is weird. Based on the background, it looks like someone was taking a picture, so maybe he was in a contest to see who’s the silliest, and the prize was taking his picture and posting it so he could be rich and famous. Of course, people might not like a money suit. If they’re poor, they might feel really hurt. It might seem like he’s bragging about being rich. But they should calm down and just pretend they’re rich, too. After all, the money is fake. Lily Gedney Merritt & Marcellus Finklea (Grade 8) on Chloe Sevigny Chloe Sevigny’s gold guitar dress is an interesting thing to wear to an event. Her dress is black and gold, which is usually a nice color combination, but I think if you’re going to wear gold, you should wear a lot to show people that you’re fancy. The small bit of gold on her dress is in the shape of a guitar with a scaly texture. The scales probably sound like jingle bells when she struts down the red carpet. The dress would look nicer if the guitar was lower so it didn’t look like it was stabbing her. Her shoes don’t match her outfit. They look like sandals she would wear while shooting a movie on the beach. Madison Grant (Grade 6) on Rihanna I think the floral pattern on Rihanna’s dress is composed of too many different colors and textures. The fishnet tights and the sparkly, black boots clash with the dress. Also, her hair is the same color as vodka sauce. Rihanna’s outfit would be more stylish if she ditched the poofy part of the skirt and extended the pattern below into a knee-length skirt. Or, she could have worn a crimson top with a milk-white skirt or black shorts. Iggy Azalea has a better sense of style because she coordinates her clothes with her shoes, and she does not dye her hair to go with her outfit. Claire Murphy (Grade 2) on Emma Watson I don't really like it because it's itchy. She cut her hair; I don't like it. I sort of like the jewelry. I wouldn't wear a dress like this to a party. It's gray like an elephant. The top is really tight. The bottom is really loose and puffy. She's wearing this dress at a party. She's wearing high heels; maybe the dress was a little bit too long so she put on high heels. There are 500 layers. There are sparkles. It would be hard to move. It would be hard to walk. It is probably really hot. It would taste like you couldn't chew it; you would have to cut it. It would make a puffy sound like fur. It smells like nothing. Rudy Fraher (Grade 3) on Adrien Brody His hairstyle is slicked like river stones. I like that. I also like that his jacket looks like it was stolen from a giant's closet while the giant was asleep. I like the color of the pants and jacket because they're brown like a dog, which is the opposite of my stuffed puppy, Webkinz. I like how the jacket looks like it's smooth and how it's shiny. I think Adrien Brody was polishing his shoes and then he went overboard and polished his pants and he said "Ooh, that looks good. I think I'll try that on my jacket." I don't like the shirt. Lady Gaga is a silly name. I like the shoes. They look very comfortable. I like comfortable shoes, but it depends on the kind of person you are: a stylish person or just an ordinary person who likes comfy shoes. Shop for computers, clothes, and markers in our Back to School shop. Illustrations: Jennifer Jackson, Groupon; Photo: Elisabeth Mikottis, GrouponRead More
It’s been a busy summer for Chicago rapper Tink. In April, super-producer Timbaland announced that he would be working with her on her album. Later that month, she put out two great singles: “Don’t Tell Nobody,” with Jeremih (of “Birthday Sex” fame), and “Want It,” a collaboration with singer Kelela (who performs at Pitchfork Fest this month). Ever since, she’s been traveling around the country, doing shows and making frequent trips to Timbaland’s Miami studio, The Hit Factory. Tink has passions besides music, though. In a January interview, she told Rookie that if she wasn’t rapping, she might be studying fashion. Recently, we decided to follow that thread and talk with her about her favorite look from this summer, which she wore to perform at Northwestern University’s spring music festival, Dillo Day. The look: Track jacket and sneakers (both from Puma) with a bustier-style crop top and high-waisted shorts (both from Forever 21). On Forever 21: “[Forever 21 is] my go-to spot. I won’t lie. I’ve been shopping there since high school.” On her high-waisted shorts: “I’m tall, so I like high-waist jeans and shorts so I don’t look off balance. They fit my figure better.” On her bright yellow nails: “Summertime, neon colors are the best.” On her hair: “This is the first day I ever did pigtails! Groupon’s getting the exclusive.” On her track jacket: “The jacket reminds me of like a ‘90s vibe. With my music, I love the ‘90s. You can tell with some of my songs. But it’s just the zebra print, the checkerboard…it’s so funky. ‘90s funky. I like that.” On why this is the perfect Tink outfit: “There’s gonna be one piece of clothing that just stands out.” Here, it’s the jacket; in the video for her song “Bars,” it was a vest. “The hood was cheetah print. That was dope to me. The whole interior was actually cheetah print.” On the Dillo Day crowd: “I was kind of shocked. It was a college crowd, so I wasn’t sure if they were up on my music, but they turned up to everything we played…[They were] more so into the music than me, which was great. I didn’t have to work so hard, I was just taking them off the beat!” On running into fellow Chicago native Chance the Rapper there: “We were on the same show like two years ago, and we had just shook hands, but we actually go to talk at Dillo Day, which was real cool. Shout-out to Chance!” Photo: Andrew Nawrocki, GrouponRead More
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