Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wauconda Wild Side: Lake County Museum Proves to be a Delightful Discovery

Museum Recap

Lake County Discovery Museum
27277 N. Forest Preserve Rd., Wauconda, IL
Visited May 19, 2013
Special Exhibits seen: Mucha: Expanding Art Nouveau; Modern Masters

As much of what I write about and champion on this blog hopefully portrays, I am a great believer in the importance of culture in myriad forms.

Given the ravages of the economy and the changes brought on by the digital age, I am consequentially quite empathetic to the challenges faced by cultural institutions of all sizes.

This prefaces why I was tremendously impressed by the Lake County Discovery Museum on my first visit there this past Sunday.

Was this interdisciplinary outpost located within the Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda--a far northwest suburb of Chicago--one of the best museums I've ever been to?

Of course not, speaking as someone who has been to most of Chicago's great museums and well over 100 worldwide, including such famed art galleries as the Louvre, Prado, Uffizi and Hermitage.

But as someone with such wherewithal, I can honestly say that the LCDM was well worth 2 hours of my time and $6 of my money. In fact, I found my visit more fulfilling than some to more prestigious museums, including the Chicago History Museum, which charges $14 for entry (though a recent free visit there was enjoyable).

So as I illustrate this pleasant 'Discovery'--including two temporary art exhibits: Mucha: Expanding Art Nouveau and Modern Masters--through the photos below, take this as not just a recommendation that you visit the Lake County Discovery Museum if you have a free day, but as an appreciation of a cultural resource that seems to be utilizing its presumably limited budget in rather remarkable fashion.

In front of the museum is a replicated Mastodon, which correlates to
exhibits inside about the natural history of Lake County.
My primary impetus for visiting the museum were two special exhibits, the first being Mucha: Expanding Art Nouveau,
about the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. Though limited in scope, the exhibit is well-curated, with this reproduction
of a French storefront designed by Mucha being a highlight.

Many of the Mucha pieces shown are gleaned from the museum's Curt Teich Postcard Archives,
which includes a number of posters and other objects as well, such as this plate.
Czech out these stamps featuring designs by Mucha.
The special exhibit Modern Masters features artworks--primarily lithographs, not paintings--by artists within the
schools of Cubism, Dadaism, Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism, such as these works by Dali.
A drawing by Modigliani.
A crayon drawing by Chagall in a book autographed by him.
In addition to works by many artists with whom I was familiar, such as Miro, Magritte, Calder,
Chagall, Arp, Ernst, Giocometti, Leger, Man Ray and others, there is a nice representation of
lesser known artists, such as this piece by Marino Marini.
The museum's Curt Teich Postcard Archives, from an old Chicago postcard manufacturer, is the world's largest public
collection of postcards. Many different types of postcards were on display--including several Mucha ones--as well as insights such as the Curt Teich Co. having printed all of the U.S. Military invasion maps during World War II. And that before telephone or email existed in everyday life, people sent postcards to convey messages within a given day.

A particularly rare type of postcard on display are those woven in pure silk, such as this one.
Given my fascination with the Columbian Exposition of 1893, I was particularly interested in this display and
the factoid that the first commercially produced picture postcards in the U.S. were souvenirs of the Fair.
This display piece represents the Eiffel Tower, which factored into the birth of postcards, and the statues
of Paul Bunyon and Babe the Ox in Bemidji, Minnesota, once one of the most photographed sites in the U.S.
Within the permanent collection reflecting various aspects of Lake County history and life is a reel of movies
shot in the county, including The Blues Brothers, Risky Business and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
Stars hailing from Lake County include Marlon Brando, Ann Margaret and Jerry Orbach.
Another former resident of Lake County.

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