I visited a museum for the first time in over five months —since catching the El Greco show March 9 at the Art Institute. On Wednesday, I stopped by the Chicago History Museum to do some digging in its archive, and left myself some time to see the exhibit of Sun-Times photography. It was like a visit with old friends, not only photographers I had worked with—Bob Black, Robert A. Davis, Bob Ringham, Bob Kotalik (you had to be named "Bob" to shoot photos for the Sun-Times, apparently). Kidding, there were non-Bobs as well: John H. White, Al Podgorski, Rich Chapman.
While I was at it, I took in the rest of the museum. That felt very normal, as much as anything can feel normal anymore. Yes, there were more guards than patrons—I counted three museum goers: a couple and their child. But some interesting new exhibits: a look at Chicago design keyed to the 1933 Century of Progress Fair, and "American Medina," a thorough exhibit of Muslim life in Chicago.
It's a miracle the train survived and is here, so small and colorful and cute, compared to the giant locomotives to come. The Pioneer worked for about 25 years, then was tucked away. Someone must have recognized its value; the Pioneer was displayed at both the 1893 and 1933 fairs.
That was the highlight. The research itself was a dry well: searching for a needle in a haystack that did not in fact contain a needle, at least not anywhere I could find it. Ah well. If you caught a fish every time you dropped a hook into the water, you'd eat well, but what would happen to the joy of fishing?