After my recent trips to the Dead Zoo in Dublin and the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, it should come as no surprise that Gary and I visited the Field Museum of Natural History during our recent trip to Chicago. As much as my Arts and Humanities side loves art museums, my Inner Science Geek demands equal satisfaction, so it’s both natural and inevitable that Gary and I paid homage to all things scientific the day after we’d visited the Art Institute.

Before our adventure at the Field Museum could begin, however, Gary and I had to get there. After having mastered the basics of subway navigation on the way to see Blue Man Group on Sunday night, on Monday morning we went via subway to the appropriate stop…and then discovered that the free trolley mentioned in our tourbook doesn’t run in March. Walking the half mile from subway to museum wouldn’t normally have been a daunting prospect…but last Monday we discovered how the Windy City got her name, snapping a couple of hurried outdoor shots before allowing the wind to bustle us inside the museum proper.

Even on a windy day, the parklike plaza outside the Field Museum affords an impressive panoramic vista of the Chicago skyline (click on image for an enlarged version):

One of the Field Museum’s most famous exhibits is Sue, the world’s largest and most complete T. rex skeleton. Although Sue has a girl’s name, the creature’s gender is unknown: Sue is named for Sue Hendrickson, the person who discovered the skeleton…but referring to “Sue” as a she just comes naturally, like talking about a beloved car or boat. And Sue is beloved: not only do museum visitors flock to see and have their pictures taken next to her, Sue has her own website, a specialized museum shop, and a traveling exhibit featuring a full-size cast of her form. Everyone who visits the Field Museum, it seems, is just wild about Sue.

Truth be told, however, Sue is just one of many impressive exhibits at the Field Museum, and I’m not even sure she was my favorite one (just don’t let Sue overhear me saying that!) When Gary and I blew in from the cold, we were so distracted by the entrance hall’s impressive tableau of mounted elephants, we walked right past Sue without realizing who she was. Dinosaur bones fill one’s imagination with thoughts of how the earth looked long ago…and the sight of elephants makes me marvel at the fact that these huge, seemingly anachronistic creatures are still around: giants who manage to survive in a world that seems too small for them.

Gary and I took lots of pictures of Sue from various angles…but I think we took more pictures of these elephants, deciding after-the-fact who would blog which of our nearly identical shots. Whereas no one else in the Garden Restaurant was photographing their food, everyone with a digicam or photo-enabled cell phone was snapping pictures of Sue and the elephants beside her: if you’re planning to visit the Field Museum, you can start deciding now whether you want your picture taken by a dinosaur or by the elephants, then you can get in queue to get snapped next to some of the most photogenic faces in town.

I didn’t see anyone posing to have their pictures taken by the Field Museum’s pair of boobies: when it comes to comparing bones and boobies, apparently bones are more popularly photogenic. There seems to be something about enormous mounted creatures that brings out the little kid in many of us: although Gary and I can blame our blogs for the number of pictures we snapped of Sue and the elephants, we weren’t the only museum-goers (nor the only adults) who were snapping photo after photo from various angles. After all, you don’t see T. rex bones or stuffed elephants everyday, and it takes just the right angle (or an expansive panoramic shot) to see both at the same time. (Click on image for an enlarged version.)

    This is the sixth in a series of SynchroBlog posts Gary and I are writing about our recent trip to Chicago. For Gary’s photo-rich account of our trip to see Sue, click here. Click back tomorrow for our final SynchroBlog post about Chicago after dark.