11 exhibitions to catch this winter
Art buffs are spoiled for choice in our city: Museums big and small boast galleries so ever-cycling it would be nearly impossible to catch all the openings in a single season. History museums and cultural institutions, perhaps unsurprisingly, tend to work on longer time frames.
Lucky us, then, that the next three months will see an impressive array of exhibition openings, right in time for the dreary weather. Included below, too, are last calls for exhibits closing soon — penguin-run, don’t penguin-walk, to those.
A grand reopening: The Heritage Museum of Asian Art finally unveiled its new Bridgeport digs in October, after a COVID-forced hiatus since March 2020. Its (re)inaugural exhibition is “The Ming Room,” showcasing bronzes, furniture, paintings and more dating from the Ming Dynasty. (Don’t miss the distinctive underglaze blue imperial porcelains on display.) The museum has also added a number of new pieces to its main gallery, including Qing-era imperial porcelains, a four-poster bed dating from the 17th century, a 13th-century bronze Buddha and a contemporary netsuke collection. “The Ming Room,” on display until summer 2023, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays at the Heritage Museum of Asian Art, 3500 S. Morgan St.; admission is $8 for adults; $5 for students, teens and seniors; $3 for children ages 7-12; and free for active military and children under 7; heritageasianart.org
Start off your 2023 reading list strong: Bookworms, you’ll want to squirm on over to two exhibitions opening this winter: “But Is It a Book?” at the University of Chicago, exploring the different mediums and formats in which text can be conveyed, and “Pop-Up Books through the Ages” at the Newberry Library, tracing the history of the genre from the 1400s to today.
- “But Is It a Book?” runs through April 28, 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Wednesdays at the Regenstein Library’s Special Collections Research Center, 1100 E. 57th St.; free admission with check-in at the front desk; lib.uchicago.edu
- “Pop-Up Books through the Ages” runs March 21-July 15, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton St.; free admission; newberry.org
Art as advocacy: Two openings within a day of each other invite Indigenous artists to reflect upon generational conflicts with state governments. Through a gallery called “No Rest: The Epidemic of Stolen Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2Spirits” and months of affiliated programming, the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian spotlights the crisis of missing and murdered Native American women, rendered invisible again and again by faulty metrics and oversights by law enforcement. Then, the Swedish American Museum opens “Arctic Highways,” about the effect of state-imposed borders on Indigenous peoples in Scandinavia and North America.
- “No Rest: The Epidemic of Stolen Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2Spirits,” Jan. 12-Sept. 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St., Evanston; admission is $7 for adults; $5 for children ages 3-17, seniors, students and education professionals; and free for children under 3 and Native visitors; mitchellmuseum.org
- “Arctic Highways,” Jan. 13-April 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St.; admission is $6 for adults; $4 for children, seniors and students; and $15 for families; swedishamericanmuseum.org
A cultural crown jewel: Taking refuge downtown from the cold? Whether just ducking in to kill time or camping out for a longer stay, the Chicago Cultural Center’s rotating exhibit roster usually means there’s something new to check out. Until Jan. 29, peek inside to learn about architect and Illinois Institute of Technology professor Armel Sagbohan’s vision for North Pullman, often secondary to South Pullman in preservation efforts surrounding the historic industrial town. Then, an exhibition on the undersung legacy of Black philanthropists goes on view in the Michigan Avenue galleries starting Feb. 1. “Pullman: Conscious Revitalization of the Overlooked,” through Jan. 29, and “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited,” Feb. 1-April 30, both at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.; free admission; chicago.gov
The (actual) Green Book: The rise of the automobile age brought with it the rise of the road trip as an American pastime. For white people, that is; Black travelers in particular encountered roads fraught with peril, never knowing which hotels, restaurants and gas stations were safe to visit. With the help of his Postal Service colleagues and submissions from readers, Victor Hugo Green compiled a list of safe towns and businesses in his “Negro Motorist Green Book,” republished annually from 1936 to 1966. This exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum uses “Green Book” editions and other related artifacts as a lens through which to examine the Jim Crow South, the second wave of the Great Migration and the rise of a Black middle class in America. Expect a more thorough account of Black motor travel than the feel-good 2018 film named after Green’s guide. “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” Jan. 29-April 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Mondays at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie; admission is $12-$18 for adults, $8 or under for students and kids; ilholocaustmuseum.org
Snapshots of Polish American life: Jan Stanislaw Zawiliński, an influential man-about-town who worked for the Polish National Alliance, took up photography as a hobbyist while living in Chicago’s Polish Downtown, centered at Polonia Triangle in West Town. A few blocks away from the plaza, the Polish Museum of America displays its collection of Zawiliński’s photos, which document Polish American life in the neighborhood between 1901 and 1924. “Chicago 1901-1924: Photographs by Jan Zawiliński,” March 6-May 30, open for tours 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Polish Museum of America, 984 N. Milwaukee Ave.; admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for seniors and students; polishmuseumofamerica.org
Losing our marbles? Not this time: When one encounters Roman sculptures in a museum, they’re often displayed as stand-alone works, as if these timeless artworks were merely dusted off and displayed on their original plinths. That, of course, isn’t the case, as “Making Sense of Marbles” at the Oriental Institute is quick to remind visitors. All the sculptures on display were unearthed in the same excavation, revealing uncommonly detailed information about their origin and purpose in the ancient city of Ptolemais. “Making Sense of Marbles,” through March 12, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, 1155 E. 58th St.; suggested admission fee $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under; oi.uchicago.edu
Heavy is the head … : How did societies go from farming and chillin’ to consolidating power in a single, demi-godlike figure? Through curated artifacts from the Balkans and Central Europe, “First Kings of Europe,” a collaborative exhibition between southeast European and North American institutions, illustrates the emergence of social inequality in those cultures. “First Kings of Europe,” March 31-Jan. 28, 2024, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Field Museum, 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; $18-$42 adults, discounts available for children and seniors; fieldmuseum.org
Hannah Edgar is a freelance writer.