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Films at Chicago Museums: Spring 2011

April 22, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Terrence Flamm

Museums are so often associated with tourists and school children on field trips it’s easy to forget how much they have to offer to the rest of us. In addition to their various exhibits, interactive displays, and tours, many museums now include films in their regularly scheduled events.

"Journey To The Stars" at Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium, at 1300 South Lake Shore Drive, boasts three movie theaters and films that appeal to all age groupsJourney To The Stars uses physics-based visualizations to simulate a trip around space and time as visitors view the birth and death of stars. The Whoopi Goldberg-narrated documentary is appropriate for ages 10 and up. Great Observatories in 3D also uses eye-popping technology, while One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure should enthrall kids 8 and under. Open all week: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM.

Films at the Chicago History Museum often celebrate the diversity of our city’s population. Letters from the Other Side, which will be presented as part of the monthly documentary series Project Sunday on May 1st, explores the often deadly circumstances faced by people who illegally cross the border from Mexico into America. The museum, located at 1601 N. Clark Street, also incorporates rare films into exhibits about Chicago’s history. Open Monday through Saturday 9:30AM through 4:40 PM. Sunday Noon through 5:00 PM.

The Field Museum might be best known as the home of Sue the dinosaur, but along with viewing her skeleton, visitors can cross paths with the big gal via Waking The T-Rex 3-D. This imaginative effort is being shown in the Ernst & Young 3-D Theater, and uses state-of-art Dolby sound effects. When Whales: Giants Of The Deep opens on May 20th, it will also use films as part of its interactive displays. The Field Museum, which is open every day 9:00 – 5:00 except Christmas, is located at 1400 South Lake Shore Drive.

"Virgin Spring" at Gene Siskel's "The Mask Of Sanity: Psychological Horror Films"

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, located at 40 Arts Drive on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, frequently shows movies at its Block Cinema facility. The Spring 2011 Film Series offers multiple events from April 14th through June 3rd, including Raoul Walsh’s Sailor’s Luck and Wim Wenders’ Kings Of The Road; film festivals; and panel discussions such as the April 23rd Illuminating The Shadows: Film Criticism in Focus.

Tornado Alley is the latest flick being offered at the Museum of Science & Industry’s five story Omnimax (R) Theater. The domed, wrap-around environment puts viewers in the midst of this hair-raising documentary, which was filmed using an IMAX camera. Tornado Alley follows Sean Casey of the Discovery Channel TV show Storm Chasers as he and Josh Wurman drive scientifically-equipped vehicles directly through major storms in order to collect essential data that can save lives. The museum is located at 57th and Lake Shore Drive, and is open every day except Christmas from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

"Sailor’s Luck" at The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago sponsors film series at its 220 East Chicago Avenue location from time to time, including a recent tribute to noted filmmaker Melika Bass, as well as the experimental film fest, Fluxfest Chicago. MCA doesn’t currently have any feature-length films scheduled, but shorter films can be viewed as part of the works in its galleries. Hours are 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Tuesdays, and 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Wednesday through Sunday. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is closed on Mondays.

Originally called The Film Center at The Art Institute when it opened 40 years ago, the Gene Siskel Film Center has been located at 164 N. State Street since 2001. It carries on the Art Institute’s tradition of showcasing independent, foreign, and classic films. Upcoming events include the 10th Annual Chicago Palestine Film Festival and The Mask Of Sanity: Psychological Horror Films. The Gene Siskel Film Center is open Monday through Wednesday 10:30 Am – 8:00 PM, Thursday 10:30 AM, Friday – Sunday 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM.

"Traveling Down Freedom’s Main Line: The Freedom Rides at 50" at The DuSable Museum

The DuSable Museum has been honoring African American history and culture for 50 years, and often uses films as part of its exhibits. In 2010, DuSable hosted The African Jubilee Film Festival, and on May 3rd of this year, will be showing the documentary, Traveling Down Freedom’s Main Line: The Freedom Rides at 50. There will be a discussion after the screening. Located at 740 E. 56th Place, DuSable Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Sunday Noon – 5:00 PM.


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