Steve Johnson covers arts and entertainment for the Chicago Tribune. In more than 25 years at the paper, he has written columns, reviews, ...

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Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

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Dread Scott, artist who invited Chicagoans to walk on the flag, is back

Dread Scott, artist who invited Chicagoans to walk on the flag, is back

February 12, 2016

The artist who incited controversy in Chicago — plus congressional and presidential denunciations — through an artwork that invited people to walk on the U.S. flag will be delivering a public lecture here Monday night.

  • Super Bowl commercials: See how critics rank the best and worst

    February 8, 2016

    The Monday after the Super Bowl you get to go on the Web to watch an ad that is the price of admission to still more ads, the Super Bowl commercials generating water-cooler buzz that you might have missed or want to see again.

  • Top 5 best and worst 2016 Super Bowl commercials

    February 8, 2016

    By now, you've seen all of the Super Bowl commercials. These were the five best and five worst Super Bowl ads I saw during the game Sunday night:

  • Super Bowl commercials 2016: Best and worst

    February 7, 2016

    As Super Bowl 50 proved to be a defensive battle on the field, it was that way in the ads, as well. Paying a reported $5 million for 30 seconds, advertiser after advertiser played it cautious by trotting out familiar faces and familiar music to help pitch their products. Some of it worked (Alec Baldwin, David Bowie), but much of it was too safe to be interesting (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marilyn Monroe, Janelle Monae). Meantime, some risky bets on new characters, a “puppymonkeybaby” and a friendly marmot, left viewers feeling a little queasy. In the game they called this sort of thing “unsportsmanlike conduct.”

  • Sunday's other big game: 5 Super Bowl ads I'm eager to see

    February 5, 2016

    Each year at this time, while other people are deciding which Super Bowl party to attend, looking up chili recipes, or hastily buying a new and bigger television, I am thinking about the advertising that will make Sunday evening’s event more than just a sports championship.

  • Super Bowl halftime, where too much is just enough

    February 4, 2016

    I cannot wait for the Super Bowl halftime show!

  • 'Dressing Downton' costume exhibit is a crowning moment for the Driehaus Museum

    February 3, 2016

    When Chicago's Driehaus Museum booked the exhibition "Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times" for early this year, executives knew it would arrive during the sixth season of "Downton Abbey," the hit PBS historical drama that has delighted and frustrated viewers in almost equal measure.

  • Donald Trump a 'reality star genius'? TV ratings tell different story

    February 2, 2016

    Donald Trump is many things, but “reality star genius” is not one of them.

  • Steven Avery and the 'Murderer' industry

    January 29, 2016

    Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Steven Avery.

  • When Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa clashed on Twitter

    January 28, 2016

    Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa had a Twitter beef.

  • James Rondeau named new Art Institute of Chicago director

    January 28, 2016

    The Art Institute of Chicago's search for a new leader was deemed "international." Its choice, announced Thursday, was hyper-regional, a man who had been in the building all along.

  • Chicago area museums report 2015 as an up year in attendance

    January 27, 2016

    Adler Planetarium last year topped 500,000 visitors for the first time in 22 years, and Morton Arboretum bested the 1 million mark for the first time in its history.

  • Art Institute receives largest cash gift in its history

    January 27, 2016

    The Art Institute of Chicago on Tuesday announced the largest cash bequest in its history, a donation of more than $35 million from one of its steadiest benefactors in recent decades.

  • Striped hyenas feast in first new diorama at Field Museum in decades

    January 26, 2016

    It's been more than half a century since the Field Museum mounted a new, full-fledged diorama, one of those carefully staged scenes depicting preserved animals in natural surroundings.

  • 'X-Files' returned, and brought the crazy back with it

    January 25, 2016

    The truth, as “The X-Files” used to like to say, is out there.

  • 5 thoughts on Springsteen, in wake of the gig

    January 20, 2016

    A handful of thoughts after Tuesday night's typically stirring Bruce Springsteen concert at the United Center, an early stop in this year's brief tour that sees him playing all of "The River" album, in order (plus a whole lot more):

  • Media giant Univision's purchase of The Onion sure to turn out just fine

    January 20, 2016

    Let's try tackling this purchase of The Onion by Univision in a few Onion-style headlines (while simultaneously demonstrating that Onion-style headlines are hard to write):

  • 'Races of Mankind' sculptures displayed again, in a new light, at the Field

    January 14, 2016

    When the "Races of Mankind" statues were finally taken off public display at the Field Museum in 1969, they were seen as relics from an earlier era of thinking about differences in the human species.

  • David Bowie's pop culture influence, in eight steps

    January 11, 2016

    As we mourn the loss of David Bowie, what keeps coming to mind is the huge impact he had on our times, anticipating and, often, helping to shape its twists and turns through the past few decades. "He always got to the unknown first," the theater critic Hilton Als wrote in the New Yorker on Monday.

  • Warriors and planets: Your guide to Chicago's museums in 2016

    January 6, 2016

    It's a mild winter so far, yes, but that doesn't mean folks want to be outside, tossing a Frisbee and whatnot. Fortunately, as they always do at this time of year, the area's museums stand ready to draw visitors in with a series of intriguing exhibitions. Here are the 10 new shows I'm most looking forward to from January into spring:

  • Chicagoan of the Year in Museums: Bill Stanley of the Field Museum

    December 23, 2015

    On a warm evening in early November, the Field Museum's massive central hall was more crowded than you'll see it even on a free day during Christmas school vacation, filled with people dressed in everything from business suits to Grateful Dead T-shirts.

  • 'Pop Art' at the MCA showcases plastic, whimsy, commercialism

    December 16, 2015

    Pop art wasn't just happening in the galleries, as a new show opening Saturday at the Museum of Contemporary Art makes clear.

  • Top 10 Chicago Museums in 2015: 'Greeks,' robots and graffiti

    December 16, 2015

    As 2015 ended, news that a former Field Museum employee had allegedly pocketed more than $900,000 in membership funds over seven years was big in the Chicago museum world. But while that scenario plays out in federal court — charges were filed this week — it's worth looking back on what was, on the whole, a pretty good year.

  • Does Bruce Springsteen's 'River' tour make him an oldies act?

    December 11, 2015

    For a long stretch of years, knowing that Bruce Springsteen tickets would be available meant that I would be making every effort to get some, whether via the old method of standing in line by a supermarket’s Ticketmaster terminal or the more recent one of setting up multiple Internet access points and hitting refresh and waiting in digital queues.

  • 'A Very Murray Christmas' puts musical treats, deadpan comedy under the tree

    December 3, 2015

    Hearing that Netflix is showing an all-new Bill Murray Christmas special is one thing. Why shouldn't Murray front an all-star gathering, like, say, Bing Crosby and Stephen Colbert before him?

  • Rating Chicago's museum websites — beginning with the MCA

    December 2, 2015

    A lot of people don't like contemporary art, and now, apparently, a lot of people don't like the Museum of Contemporary Art's new website.

  • Adler Planetarium counts 500,000th visitor, a big jump in attendance

    December 1, 2015

    Adler Planetarium has topped 500,000 annual visitors for the first time since 1993, the lakefront space museum crowed in a news release Tuesday.

  • 'The Greeks' at Field Museum: 500 artifacts to sum up civilization

    November 24, 2015

    Having a big new exhibition called "The Greeks" at the Field Museum is more than fitting. The Field's wedding-cake building, after all, is in a style derived from classical Greek architecture from more than 2,000 years ago.

  • When, where and how bright: Our guide to holiday light displays

    November 18, 2015

    Let there be light, some of the area's leading attractions say each year as Christmas approaches. And Chicagoans respond unto them by going to see the light, and it is good.

  • Eilen Jewell is a sharp, acrid gem of a performer

    November 13, 2015

    Eilen Jewell has drawn comparisons to musicians from Lucinda Williams to Madeleine Peyroux as she's put out a series of accomplished Americana albums over the last decade.

  • Humanities Festival reports 51 sold-out events, higher ticket sales this year

    November 9, 2015

    It was a record-setting year, a spokeswoman said, for the 2015 Chicago Humanities Festival, organized around a theme of Citizens and just ended Sunday.

  • Donald Trump on 'SNL': 5 thoughts

    November 9, 2015

    In the end, the anticipation far outpaced -- trumped, you might say -- the reality.

  • Amazon's new crop of pilots shows promise

    November 6, 2015

    In the new television reality, viewers sometimes get a more direct role in what gets seen than the old method of hoping the Nielsen company would make them part of its statistical sample. Case in point: Amazon, retailer of everything, now routinely puts up a handful of pilot episodes of potential series and asks viewers to rate them. The ones that elicit the most passion might get an order to produce more episodes. And the very best of them might even win Emmys, as the transgender drama "Transparent" did.

  • Chicago Collections brings city-related archives under one digital roof

    November 4, 2015

    The big news in area archiving that's being shown off Thursday is about, in the driest, most basic terms, "consolidated access to bibliographic information," as Newberry Library President David Spadafora put it.

  • How hops changed history: 'Beer Chicago' at the Elmhurst Historical Museum

    October 28, 2015

    Pull one of the tap handles at the "Beer Chicago" exhibition and out comes a heady steinful of information, delivered by a chatty bartender on a video screen.

  • New American Writers Museum is slated to open in 2017 on Michigan Avenue

    October 27, 2015

    The American Writers Museum, a Chicago project long in the works, now has a home, and it's on North Michigan Avenue, the fledgling institution announced Tuesday.

  • Ira Glass' dance-radio mashup finally comes to Chicago

    October 26, 2015

    If writing about music is, as the saying goes, like dancing about architecture, then what is dancing about radio?

  • Halloween Gathering Parade a fun 'Thriller' for those who dodged raindrops

    October 25, 2015

    It’s not every parade that includes Lupe Fiasco in a skyscraper costume, low riders, an homage to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and architects pushing iconic Chicago buildings on wheels.

  • A view to the hottest of the hot at the Humanities Festival

    October 16, 2015

    There is a thread in the contemporary American narrative that goes, roughly speaking, like this: Boy, aren't we dumb. We don't trust science. We base public policy on emotion and inertia. We pick leaders using the have-a-beer-with, rather than the solve-a-problem, standard. Boy, aren't we dumb.

  • Departing Art Institute President Douglas Druick: 'I've done what I set out to do'

    October 7, 2015

    When Douglas Druick started as Art Institute of Chicago president and director in 2011 he told the Tribune, "I see myself being here for a long time for lots of things I'd like to achieve."

  • Illinois Holocaust Museum exhibit looks at how emigres helped shape Hollywood

    October 7, 2015

    When Arielle Weininger learned of "Light & Noir," an exhibition in Los Angeles about European immigrants shaping the film industry during the early years of talking pictures, she knew she wanted to see it at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

  • Bill Stanley, 58, of Field Museum dies in Ethiopia

    October 7, 2015

    When he'd hear "roars of laughter coming from downstairs or around the corner," Larry Heaney said, he knew that his colleague, leading Field Museum scientist Bill Stanley, was giving one of his renowned tours of the museum's mammals collection.

  • Douglas Druick stepping down as head of Art Institute

    October 6, 2015

    Douglas Druick, Art Institute president and director, told his board Tuesday evening that he will step down when a successor is in place.

  • Museum of Science and Industry trains fetch nearly $500,000 at auction

    October 5, 2015

    The five antique trains the Museum of Science and Industry was selling from its exhibition floor earned just under $500,000 at auction Monday.

  • 'City Creatures': Wildlife is closer than you think

    September 30, 2015

    Nature does not surrender in the city.

  • From Agamemnon to Andy Warhol: Our top 10 museum picks for fall

    September 28, 2015

    The kids are back in school. Summer vacation is over. The tourists have mostly headed back home. And Chicago's cultural institutions, in late summer and autumn, go into high gear, with almost every one of the city's myriad museums offering a new show. Meantime, for the first time this year, they've banded together to offer Chicago Museum Week, Oct. 1-7, a promotional event designed to remind Chicagoans of the treasures in our midst. In this high season for museum exhibitions, here are the 10 events we are most eagerly anticipating:

  • Biking through deep space on Adler Planetarium's Galaxy Ride

    September 23, 2015

    "Do you have anything to do with the Adler Planetarium?" the woman asked the group eating breakfast at the Panera Bread along Greenbriar Drive.

  • Happy 1st birthday, sea otter Luna

    September 21, 2015

    When last we checked on Luna, the abandoned baby sea otter taken in by the Shedd Aquarium in October 2014, she was fuzzy, adorable and, as marine mammals go, famous.

  • Foodseum opens in the Loop, a museum devoted to all things food

    September 16, 2015

    Kyle Joseph is using "pop-up exhibit" to describe the first bricks-and-mortar incarnation of Foodseum Chicago, a concept that he hopes will eventually become a full-fledged temple to the stuff that sustains us.

  • MCA Chicago taps Omar Kholeif as new senior curator

    September 15, 2015

    The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has hired Omar Kholeif as its new senior curator. Widely traveled and looking to bring new types of programming to the msueum, Kholeif was most recently senior curator at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, where he curated exhibitions including "Fiona Banner: Stamp out Photographie" and "Electronic Superhighway: From Experiments in Art and Technology to Art After the Internet."

  • LEGO structures coming to the MSI

    September 14, 2015

    LEGO bricks and structures and the principles they demonstrate will be the focal point of a new, late winter exhibit at Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago institution announced Monday.

  • Humanities Festival tickets on sale Monday

    September 14, 2015

    Chicagoans who want to see Ta-Nehisi Coates, Aasif Mandvi, Claudia Rankine or scores of other speakers this autumn get their chance to buy tickets starting Monday.

  • Field Museum's Bill Parkinson got his hands dirty to make 'The Greeks'

    September 9, 2015

    When a trove of Greek artifacts is revealed at the Field Museum in November, no one, it is safe to say, will be more excited to share them with the public than museum archaeologist Bill Parkinson.

  • Meet Douglas Park, the new home of Riot Fest

    September 9, 2015

    Snapshots from a weekday afternoon in Douglas Park in the last full week before Riot Fest takes over:

  • Review: In Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show' premiere, the 'real Stephen' stays edgy

    September 9, 2015

    On the surface, Stephen Colbert’s first “Late Show” on CBS looked and sounded like something from the category to which it belongs, a network late-night talk show.

  • First Chicago Museum Week joins a dozen area museums

    September 8, 2015

    For the first time, Chicago museums this fall will band together to offer discounts, special programming and more in a promotion they are calling Chicago Museum Week.

  • Riot Fest Chicago offers two-day passes for limited time

    September 6, 2015

  • Top 10 burning questions for Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show'

    September 4, 2015

    Stephen Colbert, on Tuesday, will begin his tenure as the second host of CBS' "The Late Show." The debut will finally end more than a year of speculation about how the Second City alumnus will handle the move from cable's "The Colbert Report" to the big network. One thing we know is that he'll bring on first-week guests including George Clooney, Jeb Bush and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Also, thanks to Colbert, America will finally get to see Amy Schumer on a talk show! As viewers await 10:30 central time, here are the Top Ten — or at least ten of the top — things America wants to know.

  • Field Museum makes job cuts

    August 25, 2015

    The Field Museum laid off four exhibitions department employees Monday and told 17 contract workers aligned with the department that their contracts would not be renewed, a museum spokeswoman said Tuesday.

  • Papal fave 'White Crucifixtion' is on the move from the Art Institute

    August 25, 2015

    “I'm missing the Chagall. It doesn't look right to me,” said Stephanie D'Allesandro, the Art Institute's Comer Curator of International Modern Art. She was looking at a wall in the museum's Modern Wing from which Marc Chagall's “White Crucifixion” had been removed Tuesday morning.

  • Humanities Fest lineup: Citizenship debates, Patton Oswalt and Elvis Costello

    August 18, 2015

    You can let the planned appearances of musician Elvis Costello and well-known comics Patton Oswalt and Aasif Mandvi fool you into thinking the 2015 Chicago Humanities Festival might be leaning toward pop culture this year.

  • Lagunitas in Pilsen: Culture, tours and tastes all under 7-acre roof

    August 12, 2015

    "OK," the short, bearded guy with the gravelly voice said into the microphone, "we've now reached that portion of the tour where we're running out of shiny things to point at."

  • Review: Jon Stewart hits right notes in his 'Daily Show' exit

    August 7, 2015

    You knew Jon Stewart was serious about this final-show thing because it took place on Thursday, the same night ten GOP presidential candidates crowded a debate stage, most clamoring for voter recognition and ways to disassociate themselves from their putative frontrunner, Donald Trump.

  • If statues could talk — they might sound like David Schwimmer

    August 5, 2015

    It would almost be enough to have your cellphone ring and the identifying text say there's an incoming call from "Abraham Lincoln," or "Benito Juarez," or "Cloud Gate." That's a screenshot worth saving.

  • Fixing Frank: Unity Temple gets a sorely needed $23 million restoration

    July 29, 2015

    The Rev. Emily Gage chose not to take what happened shortly after she started at Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple as an omen. “Right after I began, in the fall of '08, a giant piece of ceiling fell down right above the pulpit,” she said.

  • Michael Brown exhibit sparks controversy

    July 22, 2015

    A life-sized simulation of Michael Brown's body lies face-down on the floor, surrounded by police tape and traffic cones while above him, a video image of Eartha Kitt sings about black angels.

  • 5 things we can learn from European museums

    July 22, 2015

    At the entrance to London's Natural History Museum, the city's behemoth plant-and-animal repository, a massive dinosaur skeleton stands sentinel.

  • The former Brookfield's Children's Zoo has gone wild

    June 30, 2015

    Somehow in the long and careful planning for its all-new Hamill Family Wild Encounters attraction, Brookfield Zoo left out a warning sign:

  • Museums caught in middle of state budget showdown

    June 25, 2015

    The signs all over the Illinois Artisans gallery in the State of Illinois building this week were not exactly conducive to commerce: "In preparation for the closure of the Illinois State Museum, Illinois Artisan objects are being returned to the artists," they said.

  • Cyrus Tang Hall of China opens at Field Museum: New tech, ancient stories

    June 23, 2015

    For years, the Field Museum covered the culture and people of China in about a dozen glass cases in a space that was sort of a balcony, an uncharacteristically anemic treatment of the planet's most populous — and, some would argue, powerful — country.

  • Here are hundreds of Chicago artists posing for a group photo

    June 21, 2015

    When hundreds of artists get together for probably the largest group photo Chicago's community of makers has seen, what burst of creativity do they come up with to utter at the moment the shutter is opened?

  • Colorful return for 'Chagall for Children' at Kohl Children's Museum

    June 17, 2015

    The artist Marc Chagall, whose places of residence and modernist work brought him into conflict with two of the most oppressive regimes of the 20th century, doesn't seem the most obvious topic for an exhibition at a children's museum.

  • Floodwaters force Farnsworth House closure

    June 16, 2015

    UPDATED: Flood waters, a recurring problem at Mies van der Rohe’s glass-walled Farnsworth House, have once again disrupted the historic structure in Plano, Ill., near the Fox River. A tweet Tuesday from the account of the museum, @MiesGlassHouse, announced that “All tours have been canceled for June 16-18 due to recent heavy rains. The house is currently safe, but inaccessible.”

  • The problem with Chicago radio: the songs remain the same

    June 12, 2015

    This town, it turns out, is radio nowhere. Or at least it is music radio nowhere.

  • Cleaning Sue the T. rex takes patience and feathers

    June 12, 2015

    The Tyrannosaurus rex, scientists now believe, may have had feathers. At the Field Museum Thursday morning, then, Sue the T. rex was getting intimate with bodily adornments from her past.

  • Chicago's Legacy Walk a tour into gay history

    June 10, 2015

    "The term probably needs some explaining," Victor Salvo tells the half-dozen high school students, "but we used to call it a 'beard.'"

  • Rare dolphin born at the Shedd Aquarium

    June 1, 2015

    There's a new dolphin at the Shedd Aquarium. A calf was born to resident Pacific white-sided dolphin Piquet at 12:10 a.m. Monday, aquarium officials said. The baby's sex is undetermined, but it immediately surfaced for air after the birth in the aquarium's Secluded Bay area and began "slipstreaming," swimming alongside its mother.

  • Ready to walk to Pluto? Check out 'Planets on the Path'

    May 27, 2015

    Talk about bringing the solar system down to Earth. In a temporary outdoor walkable or, more realistically, bikable exhibition called "Planets on the Path," Adler Planetarium has placed markers on Chicago Park District land representing, to scale, the location of the planets (and other celestial bodies) in relation to the sun, which, naturally, is at the Adler.

  • Mammoth homecoming: 'Titans of the Ice Age' is back at Chicago Field Museum

    May 27, 2015

    Whether mammoths mostly roamed or mostly stayed close to home is a question that scientists are still sorting out. What's indisputable is that "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age," a museum exhibition displaying bones, replicas and more of the ancient elephant relatives, has been a wanderer.

  • Shedd Aquarium trustees elect new chairman

    May 21, 2015

    H. John Gilbertson Jr., a Shedd Aquarium board member since 2000 and retired managing director of Goldman, Sachs & Co., is the new chairman of the aquarium’s board of trustees after a vote Thursday, the institution announced.

  • David Letterman offers sincerity in making his final round of goodbyes

    May 21, 2015

    “I'll be honest with you,” David Letterman said at the outset of his very last TV show after more than three decades. “It's beginning to look like I'm not going to get 'The Tonight Show.'“

  • They, robots: 'Revolution' opens at the MSI

    May 20, 2015

    On the one hand, the Museum of Science and Industry says it wants its big new showcase for cutting-edge robotics to dispel fear about the soulless mechanized creatures rising up and taking the place of humans. "The point we try to make is that it's robots and humans, not robots or humans," said John Beckman, director of exhibit design and development. "They don't do anything that they're not programmed to do."

  • Curated cars at Indy 500 Hall of Fame and Indianapolis Museum of Art

    May 20, 2015

    It's the Indianapolis 500 weekend, and you know what that means: museums! There are two highly relevant exhibits that make a road trip to Indiana's largest city worth considering, beyond the race itself. The first is the Hall of Fame Museum, literally inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. My 14-year-old son and I visited recently and thoroughly enjoyed the collection of past Indy-winning cars, plus some classics from the early days of automaking.

  • Talking to Craig Ferguson, a man on the transition trail

    May 20, 2015

    After a ten-year run during which he won accolades for his tear-up-the-cue-cards style of hosting, Craig Ferguson left CBS "The Late Late Show" last December. But he's kept busy hosting a game show, "Celebrity Name Game," for which he recently won a Daytime Emmy as best game-show host. And his "Hot and Grumpy" comedy tour has been traveling the land. Some of its final stops come in the Chicago area next week. We talked to Ferguson about leaving the desk behind, hitting the road, and the debt he owes to Ted Baxter. This is an edited transcript of that conversation.

  • David Letterman signs off 'Late Show' and leaves comedy forever changed

    May 19, 2015

    It was 1984. We had a house in a transitional neighborhood near our college's campus. We had a 13-inch black-and-white TV. And we had, almost every night, a ritual.

  • Wild art; Lincoln Park Zoo displays outdoor menagerie

    May 14, 2015

    Driving his 8-foot sculpture Prairie Song. Q from his St. Charles studio to Lincoln Park Zoo was not the most relaxing thing Guy Bellaver has ever done.

  • New pair of lionesses at Lincoln Park Zoo

    May 14, 2015

    "Stewardess" is out. "Actress" is fading. But "lioness" lives on, apparently — and especially so now at Lincoln Park Zoo, which displayed two new female lions for the first time Wednesday. Zalika and Kamali are year-and-a-half-year-old lioness sisters moved to the North Side zoo from Oregon Zoo at the behest of the inter-zoo Species Survival Plan, which works to manage captive populations.

  • 'Amphibians' at the Shedd: Poison newt skin and froggy facts

    May 13, 2015

    Eye of newt? Check. Toe of frog? Yes, lots of those. It's not a medieval potion Shedd Aquarium has cooked up, however, or an ingredients list for the witches of "Macbeth." It's a new, special exhibit called "Amphibians," a bright, closely detailed look at the coldblooded, skin-breathing, water-loving, slimy, mostly tetrapod vertebrates.

  • Field Museum announces record gifts of $70 million, a $250 million goal

    May 13, 2015

    Jump-started by its three largest donations ever, the Field Museum is to announce Wednesday that it will attempt to raise $250 million to support its collections and endowment, improve visitor experience and stabilize its finances, among other goals.

  • Advertising mascots are the stars at Museum of Broadcast Communications

    May 6, 2015

    The products they tout are all over the map or, more precisely, the grocery store: refrigerated roll dough, bug spray, canned tuna, all-purpose cleaning fluid, packaged vegetables, cat food and breakfast cereal, to name a few.

  • 2015 Humanities Fest to include Anna Deavere Smith, Walter Isaacson

    May 5, 2015

    The fall Chicago Humanities Festival has an organizing theme, the festival announced Tuesday, and it is one Charles Foster Kane and the ancient Greeks might agree is important: Citizens.

  • The Onion website gets an update

    May 1, 2015

    Even an area man would notice there’s something new about The Onion.

  • 'House On Mango Street' packs them in

    April 29, 2015

    If you went to the opening-night reception for the art exhibition inspired by "The House on Mango Street," Sandra Cisneros' revered 1984 novel about coming of age in Chicago, you would have learned two things.

  • 10 key works from the $400 million donation to the Art Institute

    April 22, 2015

    Amid the excitement over the news Tuesday that the Art Institute of Chicago will receive its largest-ever art gift, $400 million worth of postwar works donated by Chicago philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, the art itself may have taken a back seat.

  • New glass and new life at the Garfield Park Conservatory

    April 22, 2015

    One of the many destructive things that happened when a hailstorm hit Garfield Park on a late June day in 2011 was that a giant shard of glass plummeted down from the Garfield Park Conservatory's see-through roof and stuck in the dirt amid ground cover in the building's storied Fern Room, right next to a sign warning people to keep off.

  • Chicago Botanic Garden breaks ground on new $26 million campus

    April 22, 2015

    Turning over earth is one of the most ordinary things that happens at the Chicago Botanic Garden. But sticking shovels into ground to get started on a new, 25,000-square-foot building at the Glencoe nature park is much less usual.

  • Art Institute of Chicago gets its largest gift ever, including 9 Warhols

    April 22, 2015

    A major private contemporary art collection with a value estimated at $400 million is being donated to the Art Institute of Chicago by local philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, in what the museum is calling the largest gift of art in its history and a coup for the institution and the city.

  • 'Mission Moon' at Adler: Capt. Lovell helps tell human side of space race

    April 11, 2015

    It is, perhaps, too easy to forget about the moon program and its decade-plus of sacrifices and successes. These days, private companies are providing space services, and the exploration talk is of Mars. The moon? Been there, stepped on that — and almost 50 years ago now.

  • Shedd Aquarium president Ted Beattie is stepping down

    April 9, 2015

    Ted Beattie, who guided the Shedd Aquarium through major expansions and maintained its strong popularity and profitability in the past two decades, will retire once a successor is in place, the aquarium announced Thursday.

  • Unfrozen in time: New life, and crowdfunding, for dioramas at Field Museum

    April 8, 2015

    There is a masterpiece in the Field Museum. Walking by, though, you might not know it. You might look at the four room-size display cases showing white-tailed deer in each of the four seasons and think, "Oh, dioramas." You might consider this square-shaped arrangement of nature scenes a fusty relic of museums past, of a time when there was no nature programming on TV, when zoos showed animals not in naturalistic settings but in blank cages.

  • Why a dolphin pregnancy has the Shedd holding its breath

    April 1, 2015

    Usually, the Phelps Auditorium at Shedd Aquarium shows "Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure," a film said to be rendered in 4D, the technology that, apparently, turns 3D up to 11. But the audience this particular winter morning, ahead of aquarium opening hours, is Shedd employees, and the meeting's purpose is to deliver what the email invitation promised would be "a special announcement from the Marine Mammals team!"

  • If these objects could talk ... 'Secret Lives' at Chicago History Museum

    March 25, 2015

    Nathan Leopold's eyeglasses, eyewitness to an infamous murder — and evidence of it. Ann Landers' typewriter, conduit for common-sense advice. Booth One at the Pump Room, marker of status and coddler of scores of celebrity posteriors.

  • 'Materials Science' opens at MSI with a massive microscope at its center

    March 25, 2015

    The visual centerpiece of the Museum of Science and Industry's new temporary exhibit, "Materials Science," is an atom probe field ion microscope, a Smart Car-sized device that looks so important you wonder how it can afford to be in a museum. It was used to determine the type and location of atoms in a material, and it looks the part: This is what you'd cast as "menacing scientific device" in your spy thriller. Surrounding it, in the two lower-level galleries that most recently held the treasures-from-the-storerooms show "80 at 80," are more prosaic, but nonetheless engaging, discussions of the development of the field that works with plastic, ceramics and metals, as well as silicon, carbon and magnets. Did you know concrete is a ceramic?

  • It's #MuseumWeek on Twitter: Chicago museums join in

    March 24, 2015

    Museums and Twitter do not, at first, seem like natural allies. The former aim to be more or less timeless, representations of what is important and lasting and has been researched in depth. The latter is a steadily flowing stream of quick information bits.

  • Art online turns into reality

    March 19, 2015

    The high school students stood in front of "Nighthawks," the real version of the 1942 Edward Hopper painting they'd previously studied in a digital incarnation. Somebody pointed an iPhone toward them, and pressed record.

  • Ireland exhibit at Art Institute goes beyond the blarney

    March 17, 2015

    Yes, the major exhibition of Irish art and craft works at the Art Institute of Chicago opened on St. Patrick's Day.

  • Adler Planetarium cuts 15 jobs, including astronomers

    March 12, 2015

    The Adler Planetarium laid off 15 full-time employees Wednesday, about 8 percent of its workforce, citing "an effort to optimize our staffing and business model," Adler President Michelle Larson said in a statement.

  • Brookfield Zoo innovations have animals foraging for food

    March 11, 2015

    When red pandas go on exhibit for the first time at Brookfield Zoo in July, they'll be housed around a broad tree that looks like a giant bonsai and has magical qualities.

  • Illinois Holocaust Museum: Equal parts daunting and rewarding

    March 4, 2015

    The geographical place name in the title of the Illinois Holocaust Museum probably doesn't do the institution any favors.

  • 'Pluto killer' Michael Brown to speak at the Adler

    March 4, 2015

    Fans of the former ninth planet might not be so thrilled to hear that astronomer Michael E. Brown is coming to Chicago to speak. The 2010 book by the professor of planetary astronomy at California Institute of Technology is called "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming." In the first Kavli Prize Laureate Dome Lecture, Brown, a winner of the 2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics, will speak at the Adler Planetarium on solar system evolution, Pluto and other "dwarf planets" and the evidence for a larger object, a potential true ninth planet, out beyond the dwarfs. The talk will be simulcast to institutions in Denver, Peoria (Riverfront Museum) and Tucson, and will be followed by a speaker reception.

  • Tribune archive: Interview with E.L. James, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' author

    February 27, 2015

    The “Fifty Shades of Grey” film has racked up more than $130 million in domestic box office receipts in two-and-a-half weeks. And critics have had a fine time indulging in literary masochism by reading through the source material, the bondage homage book by E.L. James.

  • The milder side of Vikings, now at Field Museum

    February 25, 2015

    Before Ikea, before Volvo, even before ABBA, a different entity spread worldwide the message of Scandinavian craftsmanship and aspirations toward industry domination.

  • 'Doris Salcedo' engages in the most visceral ways

    February 18, 2015

    The contrast between then and now in the fourth floor galleries of Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art couldn't be more striking.

  • 'SNL 40th Anniversary' is a milestone, and not much else

    February 16, 2015

    It’s a risky strategy for “Saturday Night Live” to put on a star-studded 40th-anniversary special. Seen from the wrong angle, it could make NBC’s late-night warhorse look like a museum piece, instead of a still-vital part of the TV — well, OK, maybe the special makes sense.

  • Reviewing Jon Stewart's 'The Daily Show' in 1999

    February 12, 2015

    It was 1999 when Jon Stewart debuted as host of "The Daily Show," a time when fears of the new millennium were high and America was, clearly, eons away from ever having a black president.

  • Ode to the orchid at Chicago Botanic Garden

    February 11, 2015

    If the plant-care anecdotes are true, then this country is practically teeming with serial killers — of orchids. Try as we may, entranced as we may be by their delicate beauty at the Jewel or at a flower shop, we get them home and, well, soon enough we're banging the drum slowly for another formerly pretty flower.

  • Chicago Humanities Festival has new artistic director

    February 11, 2015

    The Chicago Humanities Festival said it would name on Wednesday Jonathan Elmer its new artistic director, a half-time position that helps guide the festival's programming choices and serves as one of its public faces.

  • Shedd announces new 'Amphibians' exhibit

    February 10, 2015

    Moving up the animal complexity ladder, Shedd Aquarium will mount "Amphibians" in the temporary exhibit space long occupied by "Jellies," the institution's popular exhibition of jellyfish.

  • Ease up, Grammys: No need to force the TV-music magic

    February 9, 2015

    Last night was the Grammys, also known as The Show Determined to Make You Never Want to Hear One Note of "Stay With Me " Ever Again.

  • Ditch red light cameras, quench thirst for revenue with Bud Light cameras

    February 6, 2015

    I've got three words that can help reshape city finance and remove some municipal annoyances as well: Bud Light cameras.

  • Mitchell Museum of the American Indian puts on native fashion show

    February 4, 2015

    The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is saying yes not only to the dress, in a vibrant new exhibition of Indian fashion, but also to the vest, specifically an early 20th century Nez Perce sleeveless garment featuring "pictorial beadwork on hide with calico fabric lining."

  • Museums reflect on lower attendance in 2014

    January 28, 2015

    If you've ever tried to go to, say, Shedd Aquarium or the Museum of Science and Industry on the Sunday of a school vacation week, you'll agree that fewer museum visitors isn't necessarily a bad thing.

  • Meet the latest cold-weather jargon: the 'wintery mix'

    January 27, 2015

    When did weather situations start getting named like chocolate assortments or craft-beer 12-packs?

  • Attendance dips at major Chicago museums in 2014

    January 23, 2015

    Attendance at a consortium of 15 leading Chicago cultural institutions was down slightly in 2014, in large measure due to the "polar vortex" weather that began the year, but blockbuster year-end exhibitions about a rock star and a year in history kept the numbers from being worse.

  • Crowdfunding and Amazon gifts: Adler and Shedd try new fundraising ideas

    January 23, 2015

    It beats mailing out another membership solicitation, apparently. Two Chicago cultural institutions are turning to web culture to try to raise money, innovative responses to the eternal challenge such not-for-profit institutions face.

  • Hey, hey, it's the snow monkeys at Lincoln Park Zoo

    January 21, 2015

    Enter, snow monkeys.

  • National Museum of Mexican Art: A vibrant scene in Pilsen

    January 21, 2015

    When Carlos Tortolero was starting what is now known as the National Museum of Mexican Art, "there were three things people told me I was crazy for," he said. "One, doing a museum in a working-class neighborhood; two, starting an arts museum in a working-class neighborhood; and, three, being free. They told me it couldn't be done."

  • Zany tales and Chicago museums make education fun in kids series

    January 20, 2015

    Hearing Kelli Feigley talk about how her new, Chicago-made children's science TV series came together, it almost sounds easy to get a show on air.

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson brings stars, star power to Auditorium

    January 19, 2015

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is that rarity: a scientist who has become, in recent years, virtually a household name. The host of "Cosmos" on TV last year and the director of New York's Hayden Planetarium, he'll be appearing Jan. 27 at the Auditorium Theatre, a nearly sold-out show on a big public speaking tour.

  • 'Moochie Kalala' TV series stars Tim Kazurinsky and Chicago's museums

    January 16, 2015

    Sunday's first episode of the new, Chicago-made kids' TV series "Moochie Kalala Detectives Club" starts with Tim Kazurinsky's character telling his grandkids a fantastical story that leads to a search for truth at Adler Planetarium.

  • 'Love on Paper' at the Newberry: 'Vinegar valentines' and other mash notes

    January 14, 2015

    "Love on Paper" is the animating idea behind a new exhibition at the Newberry Library. As you type that title onto a screen, or read it from a screen, you have to wonder if future such shows are going to be purely historical.

  • Much hustle, little flow on Fox's 'Empire'

    January 6, 2015

    There's enough story presented in Wednesday's first episode of "Empire," the new Fox melodrama about a New York City family feuding over control of its record label, to sustain several TV seasons.

  • That's so Normal: Talking to residents of Normal, Illinois, about their town's name

    January 5, 2015

    When the Pizza Hut marketing apparatus descended last month on Normal, Ill., it was part of a three-pronged town-name exploitation strategy.

  • Chicagoan of the Year in Museums: Michael Darling

    December 23, 2014

    It wasn't immediately obvious that a rock-star retrospective would work at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Aren't there music museums in Cleveland and Seattle for that kind of thing?

  • Final 'Colbert Report': Colbert confers self immortality, sings 'We'll Meet Again'

    December 19, 2014

    So, apparently, there might be more of “Stephen Colbert,” the fictional wing-nut talk show host portrayed so winningly by Stephen Colbert during nine-plus years of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. What else are we to make of a finale, Thursday night, in which Colbert knocked off the Grim Reaper to become immortal?

  • Best of Museums 2014: The big stories, from 'Bowie' to orchids

    December 17, 2014

    The biggest museum story in Chicago in 2014 was, of course, the one that's on the horizon. During the year, billionaire filmmaker George Lucas chose Chicago for his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, was offered a prime lakefront site in a current Soldier Field parking lot, and put forward a building design that looks like the science-fair volcano of an obsessive "Star Wars" fan.

  • Stephen Colbert departs, and his Nation mourns

    December 17, 2014

    Watching the first episode of "The Colbert Report," I remember thinking, He cannot possibly sustain this.

  • Review: 'The Real World: Skeletons' on MTV

    December 15, 2014

    The best thing about the Tuesday debut of the new, set-in-Chicago season of MTV's "The Real World" is that it's a sure sign taping is over and these people have left our city.

  • Shedd reveals winning name of rescued sea otter pup

    December 12, 2014

    And she shall be "Luna."

  • A new name for sea otter Pup 681, live Friday

    December 11, 2014

    The new, friendlier name for Pup 681, the Shedd Aquarium's rescued baby sea otter and resident media darling, will be announced at 8 a.m. Friday, the morning after voting was scheduled to end, the aquarium said Thursday.

  • Talking to Lonnie Bunch about his Smithsonian-size task

    December 10, 2014

    Lonnie Bunch had a good thing going in Chicago. He was running the Chicago Historical Society, helping to guide its transition to eventually becoming the more outward facing Chicago History Museum. Chicago's community of civic leaders had welcomed him into their ranks, asking him to help woo Boeing to the city, for example. His family was settled, happily, in Oak Park.

  • Dolphin is born but dies at Brookfield Zoo

    December 5, 2014

    A male dolphin died shortly after being born at Brookfield Zoo on Friday, zoo officials said.

  • Museum of Contemporary Art: An easy-to-like place for difficult art

    December 3, 2014

    A recent visit to Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art discovered in its galleries:

  • Adler's Doane Observatory reopens to public

    November 26, 2014

    With an Adler After Dark event last week, the Adler Planetarium's Doane Observatory quietly reopened for public use after a renovation that improved access to the building's 20-inch mirrored telescope, put in a lakeside ground-floor classroom/meeting room, and added heat, restrooms and windows.

  • Why unamplified music makes for a better live show

    November 21, 2014

    The concert began suddenly, with a violinist standing amid the audience. Then came two male voices, clear and pure, also amid the crowd, singing notes rather than words.

  • Season of lights, lights and more lights: 'Illumination,' MSI and others

    November 19, 2014

    These days, the main floor of the Museum of Science and Industry is a little bit like a Christmas tree lot, but without the smell of evergreens, the giant ball of twine or the sketchy dude in the Carhartt jacket. In a long-running holiday tradition, the museum's "Christmas Around the World" has more than 50 faux Christmas trees set up, decorated to represent more than 50 countries around the globe — no matter what proportion of their populations actually celebrates Christmas.

  • Superfans ... of the Humanities Festival

    November 13, 2014

    Another Chicago Humanities Festival fall season is about to end Friday, which, for Victor Magar and Deb Oestreicher (in photo above) means their pile of books to read in coming months is now a whole lot higher.

  • Baby orangutan Kecil gets a mother at Brookfield Zoo

    November 12, 2014

    For a 10-month-old orangutan, Kecil is a pretty well-traveled guy.

  • Chicago History Museum: Telling the essential stories of our American city

    November 12, 2014

    On weekends, the Chicago History Museum is not stuffed to bursting with newcomers to the city, but it ought to be. One of the highest best uses of the information-rich institution at the south end of Lincoln Park is its ability to ground people in the lore of the metropolis. In a place with as much self-regard as Chicago, as much entrancement with its own (fact-based) mythology, that's a vital civic role.

  • You need to hear Chuck Prophet

    November 6, 2014

    My relationship with the fellow, such as it is, began on a slightly edgy note.

  • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Nature just might get back to you

    November 5, 2014

    I thought I had finally gotten over my — let's not sugarcoat it — revulsion at being in butterfly gardens.

  • A familiar voice as Steve Dahl returns to Chicago radio

    November 4, 2014

    Grumbles about commercial radio's tight formatting? Check. Horndog comments to a female caller and his station's traffic reporter? Check. References to Disco Demolition and Garry Meier and a phone call to wife Janet? Check, check and check.

  • Big dino discovery unfolds at a thriller's pace

    November 4, 2014

    "Bigger Than T. rex," the story of two University of Chicago paleontologists piecing together the facts about the largest predatory dinosaur yet found, unfolds at the pace of a good thriller.

  • Morton Arboretum: Seeing the forest and the trees

    October 29, 2014

    Along one of the miles and miles of footpath at The Morton Arboretum, I stopped on a recent Monday to soak in the scene. The forest floor was a bright yellow carpet. Above me, more leaves, yellow and orange and green, still clung to their makers. The sunlight filtered through like a blessing.

  • Field invites top natural history museums to Chicago summit

    October 28, 2014

    In a new initiative in its industry, the Field Museum of Natural History plans to host representatives of fellow leading natural-history museums at a meeting in the spring of 2015, Field president Richard Lariviere said in an interview.

  • Drew Michael: a comedian obsessed with craft

    October 28, 2014

    Yes, his parents divorced when he was 12. Yes, he was the kind of kid who wouldn't accept authority until authority proved its logic to him.

  • George Lucas museum to feature more than 'Star Wars'

    October 17, 2014

    Yes, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas is building a museum on Chicago's lakefront. But it will not be a “Star Wars” museum, the filmmaker said in Chicago Friday, calling that an idea that has been “blown all out of proportion.”

  • Humanities Festival preview: Journey off the beaten path

    October 17, 2014

    Long before Lollapalooza became a fixture in Grant Park, long before Riot Fest and Pitchfork Music Festival and the myriad other concentrations of cultural events that have come to define the city's warm-weather entertainment scene, there was the Chicago Humanities Festival.

  • What's next for Chicago Humanities Festival?

    October 17, 2014

    Call this interview "Festival 101," and think of it as the Chicago Humanities Festival event that's not on the schedule.

  • PBS series explains why Chicago needed a lift

    October 14, 2014

    Chicago was the first American city to have a modern sewer system, and because it is so flat, it also had one of the hardest obstacles to achieving that.

  • 'Numbers in Nature' hides math in plain sight — and in mirror maze

    October 9, 2014

    The fine new "Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze" exhibition serves two purposes for the Museum of Science and Industry.

  • Field joins Tribune, Sound Opinions in curated movie trend

    October 9, 2014

    With a public screening of "Jurassic Park" Friday guided by one of its top dinosaur scientists, the Field Museum is getting in on one of the city's notable recent arts trends, the curated movie showing.

  • Lucas Museum gives most detailed version yet of its vision

    October 9, 2014

    Pledging to "challenge the way people think about museums," the coming Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will feature "popular art from illustration to comics, an insider’s perspective on the cinematic creative process, and the boundless potential of the digital medium."

  • Reality TV has a ripple effect for 'Pond Stars'

    October 6, 2014

    The title of the new series "Pond Stars" may just sound like an easy play on the already running "Pawn Stars," but it is very serious about the pond part of its name.

  • Chicago Fire Festival fizzle not alone among city's arts duds

    October 6, 2014

    Redmoon Theater's attempt to celebrate the Great Chicago Fire on the Chicago River Saturday fizzled when the houses it had built on boats wouldn't light. No floating inferno. No spectacle. Tens of thousands scuffling away, let down.

  • Many moving parts combine to make the one and only UniverSoul Circus

    October 6, 2014

    A circus is, in essence, a variety show, Ed Sullivan under a peaked tent. One act after another spills out into the center ring, and the audience cheers it on or doesn't have long to wait for the next performer.

  • Review: Fleetwood Mac at the United Center

    October 3, 2014

    Suddenly, Fleetwood Mac seems like it might be thinking about tomorrow again. 

  • In '1968,' an overseas war, riots in Chicago and a year worth revisiting

    October 1, 2014

    So let's start with this little mathematical nugget: 1968 was almost half a century ago.

  • Animal training expert Ken Ramirez leaves Shedd Aquarium

    October 1, 2014

    Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training and frequent public face for Shedd Aquarium, has taken a new job with a firm that focuses on positive reinforcement animal training.

  • Powerful 'Spirits' exhibit examines slave trade

    October 1, 2014

    "Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade" can be taken in on two levels.

  • Primitive fish found for first time in Chicago waterway

    September 29, 2014

    State fish biologists were looking for Asian carp.

  • 'Bowie Is': Beyond the coke spoon and album art at the MCA

    September 24, 2014

    You've probably already heard about David Bowie's cocaine spoon.

  • In 'Great War' exhibit, Chicago's role and some rousing tunes

    September 18, 2014

    It's hard to know, at a Newberry Library exhibition, which to like more, the propaganda posters or the sheet music?

  • Chimpanzees are inherently warlike, finds a new study

    September 17, 2014

    Chimpanzees in the wild become violently aggressive on their own, rather than being driven to warlike behaviors as a result of proximity to or interaction with humans, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

  • Spinosaurus aegyptiacus revealed to be first semiaquatic dinosaur

    September 11, 2014

    If you think it sounds incongruous to describe the largest predatory dinosaur yet known as “half duck, half crocodile,” well, correct.

  • Steve Dawson back with jazz hybrid

    September 10, 2014

    To hear Steve Dawson tell it, the thing he needed most to launch his new musical project, a jazz-Americana hybrid band called Funeral Bonsai Wedding, was courage.

  • Completely unprepped for doomsday

    September 8, 2014

    All across the country people are preparing or, in the shorthand, "prepping" for a coming apocalypse — the day when, in the even shorter hand, the "SHTF." That's an acronym preppers use that stands, almost, for "something hits the fan."

  • Brooks has friends: many, many thousands of them

    September 8, 2014

    Garth Brooks, it turns out, has friends in flat places, too. Lots and lots of them.

  • Comedy for fall 2014: Big laugh lineup in Chicago

    September 5, 2014

    It's a fine fall for comedy in the Chicago area as the latest stand-up renaissance continues. Below are some of the leading shows of the season, and we don't even mention the steady fare at Laugh Factory, UP or Zanies; the wealth of improv and variety shows around town; or touring stints from Moshe Kasher, Mike Birbiglia and — for you fans of musically based political satire — the Capitol Steps.

  • Kyle Kinane's unfinished puzzle

    September 5, 2014

    Before he found comedy, Kyle Kinane was in a Chicago punk band, The Grand Marquis, with some of the friends he grew up with in west suburban Addison.

  • Brookfield Zoo: A walk on the wild side

    September 3, 2014

    When you enter Brookfield Zoo, it seems as if the big fountain on the broad, open plaza, the one surrounded by circular pathways, ought to be the center of things.

  • New Field Museum exhibit brings ancient Madagascar to life

    August 28, 2014

    More than just the setting for a fanciful cartoon movie, Madagascar, of course, is a real island boasting some of the most fascinating biological history on Earsth.

  • Art Institute of Chicago: Veer off the masterpiece path at AIC

    August 27, 2014

    The challenge in visiting the Art Institute of Chicago is to get beyond the obvious. Easier said than done.

  • China exhibit hall coming to Field Museum

    August 26, 2014

    For the next addition to its permanent exhibitions, Chicago’s Field Museum is looking far to the East.

  • Chicago Humanities Festival releases fall schedule

    August 22, 2014

    Click "I'm a Book Nerd. What's for me?" on the website of the Chicago Humanities Festival, and 36 programs from the schedule for autumn 2014 fill the screen.

  • Art Institute painting gets postage stamp treatment

    August 21, 2014

    Being enshrined on a postage stamp is not what it used to be in the days when people would argue vigorously over which pop-culture figures were or were not appropriate for this quasi-governmental honor.

  • Chicago Botanic Garden: All the pathways are yours

    August 20, 2014

    It isn't easy to find all of the serene nooks and calming crannies at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Some of the paths at the park seem perfectly content to go only one way. At least a couple of the themed gardens are best reached by walking through another garden.

  • How Discovery Channel's Shark Week didn't (quite) bite the Shedd

    August 15, 2014

    Discovery Channel's Shark Week will never be mistaken for the video version of a scientific journal.

  • Lincoln Park Zoo sets new kiddie train opening date

    August 13, 2014

    Lincoln Park Zoo on Oct. 2 will open the new Lionel Train Adventure children’s train ride, part of its big current improvement project, the zoo announced.

  • 2014 Humanities Festival full schedule is announced

    August 12, 2014

    Even before Tuesday, a handful of speakers at this fall's Chicago Humanities Festival had been announced: comedian Paula Poundstone, writer Colm Toibin, former Brown University president Ruth Simmons, rocker-poet-autobiographer Patti Smith, conservative columnist David Brooks, “Girls” star Lena Dunham.

  • Adler hosts meteor shower viewing in Wheaton

    August 12, 2014

    Proposed: The best kind of outdoor shower is a meteor shower.

  • Shedd Aquarium takes bite out of Shark Week

    August 11, 2014

    Shark Week is not an official holiday. Not yet. 

  • Field Museum: Packing in science and much, much more

    August 6, 2014

    The only way Chicago's Field Museum could have had a better benefactor is if there had been a generous turn-of-the-last-century tycoon named "Natural History."

  • Vintage Bill Murray video from Second City stage

    August 1, 2014

    If you're a website touting a new series called the Second City Archives, there's probably no better way to start it off than with a vintage Bill Murray clip. You know, from the days before he became a serious actor mostly in Wes Anderson films.

  • Review: 'Michael Jackson, Inc.' by Zack O'Malley Greenburg

    August 1, 2014

    Michael Jackson made a few brilliant business decisions in his life and a lot of cruddy ones. But probably his most effective move of all — from a financial sense, anyway — was to die of a drug overdose at age 50 on June 25, 2009.

  • Lincoln Park Zoo: 8 reasons to love it

    July 30, 2014

    There are so many ways to enjoy Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo that it might be best just to list them.

  • Ira Glass hates Shakespeare

    July 29, 2014

    Ira Glass loves the fine storytelling done on his public radio show, the Chicago-based “This American Life.” He’s not so fond of the storytelling done by an English writer named William Shakespeare.

  • More museums skip admission

    July 25, 2014

    Let's start with this: Any cultural institution that has even a smidgen of belief in the part of its mission statement that talks about education and outreach and community service would love to be free. So, all of them.

  • South Side creates its own Museum Campus

    July 24, 2014

    The idea sat roughly in the middle of the city's Cultural Plan 2012, a bullet point among scores of bullet points: "Development of a 'Museum Campus South' that connects major institutions on the South Side."

  • Museum of Science and Industry: Science and showmanship at the MSI

    July 23, 2014

    The Museum of Science and Industry lives, vibrantly, in the last remaining building from Chicago's storied World's Fair of 1893.

  • MSI Disney exhibit extended until January

    July 23, 2014

    There's more time for Disney at the Museum of Science and Industry.

  • Adler Planetarium: Contemplating the infinite

    July 16, 2014

    Go to Adler Planetarium if you're feeling big in your britches, a little prideful about our species' role in things.

  • Leaked recording of Britney Spears a window into modern recording

    July 14, 2014

    Starring now on a website near you: Britney Spears, raw.

  • Shedd Aquarium: Oodles of fish, surprising exhibits and, oh yes, crowds

    June 25, 2014

    At the Shedd Aquarium, it is possible, at times, to imagine yourself as a fish swimming in a crowded school — especially if you try to head downstream while everybody else in the place is going up.

  • Chicago paintings will be part of Art Everywhere

    June 20, 2014

    Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” are among the favored Chicago artworks that will be seen on billboards and at bus stops nationwide this summer, according to results of online voting for favored American art released Friday.

  • 9/11 museum a powerful reminder of the unthinkable

    June 20, 2014

    There is a long list of things that the newly opened National September 11 Memorial Museum doesn't accomplish, or doesn't fully accomplish.

  • The Onion debuts Clickhole; say goodbye to your afternoon

    June 12, 2014

    Here's one irresistible website you won't believe that every person on Earth who likes kittens or bacon should see before they die. Or should they?

  • With Shedd and Field brews, a new kind of exhibit on tap

    June 11, 2014

    The hops that Shedd Aquarium grows cannot claim pride of place.

  • 'Cosmos' host Neil deGrasse Tyson coming to Chicago

    June 9, 2014

    Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, public intellectual and host of the "Cosmos" television series, will embark on a national speaking tour with the first dates set for January, the tour producer announced Monday. Tyson’s Chicago stop, Jan. 27 at the Auditorium Theatre, is the second scheduled so far. Also announced are dates in Madison, Wisc., Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., with more cities to come, according to the producer, Innovation Arts & Entertainment of Chicago. Tickets for the shows, billed as “an evening of engaging conversation on science, exploration and the world as we know it,” go on sale Friday; those for the Chicago event will cost between $55 and $92, said an event spokesman. Tyson is director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium.

  • Walking the floor of BookExpo America with James Patterson

    June 6, 2014

    Just before merging into the convention floor, James Patterson, world's best-selling author, looks up at the hockey-rink sized banners hanging above the entryway to the BookExpo America 2014.

  • New 'The Greeks' exhibit coming to Chicago in 2015

    June 2, 2014

    Greek yogurt has elbowed its way onto dairy shelves. Greek mythology is now, more than just a school subject, a standard part of children's fantasy fiction reading and movie-going.

  • Our summer list for Chicago-area museums

    May 28, 2014

    Summer is traditionally a slow time for museum exhibit openings. This could be because of the heat or the humidity or the marked decrease in school field trips during the season. No matter. Area museums and zoos do make concerted efforts to bring in adults, usually for evening events. We've scoured the news releases and the websites to come up with a list of summer (or close to summer) potential highlights that could add enrichment to your, or your family's, warm-weather agenda. As always, check the institutions' websites for more details.

  • New glass and a new outlook in Garfield Park

    May 21, 2014

    It sounds like something out of a Gothic novel. Golfball-sized hail falls in the night and blasts football-sized holes in the delicate glass roof covering a storied, turn-of-the-last-century indoor garden.

  • Zoos and Shedd Aquarium join elephant campaign

    May 20, 2014

    Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Shedd Aquarium announced Tuesday they are joining a fight to protect African elephants through the newly launched 96 Elephants Campaign. The campaign aims to help the endangered animals in their homeland, educate the public about the damage ivory consumption does to elephant populations and secure a moratorium on ivory trading in the U.S., the world’s second largest importer of ivory. The Wildlife Conservation Society and more than 100 other zoos and aquariums are also part of the effort.

  • 'Sox vs Cubs': Rivalry as an exhibit

    May 15, 2014

    First, a confession: I prefer the Sox, but if the Cubs are having a decent year, I'll root for them too.

  • Adler's 'Destination Solar System' a stunning tour of the planets

    May 12, 2014

    In previous shows since remaking its central domed theater, the Adler Planetarium has taken visitors into deep space, back to the celestial basics, and deep into the kind of awe the cosmos can inspire.

  • Hancock's new 'Tilt!' puts you over the edge

    May 7, 2014

    Step into the new Tilt! attraction on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center and at first nothing happens.

  • Are The Orwells rock's next big thing?

    April 29, 2014

    On an April Tuesday afternoon, a big black van rolled through the streets of Elmhurst.

  • Are The Orwells rock's next big thing?

    April 29, 2014

    On an April Tuesday afternoon, a big black van rolled through the streets of Elmhurst.

  • Comic Demetri Martin's active mind at work at Lincoln Hall

    April 25, 2014

  • Chicago Sports Museum gets into the game

    April 24, 2014

    At last, a place in Chicago that pays attention to sports!

  • William Shakespeare's 450th birthday celebrated at Newberry Library

    April 17, 2014

    Celebrating Shakespeare's birth makes more sense than marking his death.

  • Rodney Crowell espouses some simple wisdom in 'Tarpaper Sky'

    April 14, 2014

    Last decade, in a burst of creativity in his 50s, Rodney Crowell made the three best albums of a storied but never settled career. The new "Tarpaper Sky" (New West) does not, however, hark back to the deeply personal, wildly poetic trilogy that began with 2001's "The Houston Kid."

  • Meet robots at MSI this week

    April 9, 2014

    Our fascination with robots, thus far, outstrips our in-home uses for them.

  • Neil Shubin tells the story of us in 'Your Inner Fish'

    April 8, 2014

    Moving downward from the shoulder, the arms of Neil Shubin, fish paleontologist, are built like this: one bone, two bones, lots of bones, digits.

  • Art Institute taking its work outside this summer

    April 6, 2014

    Washington crossing the Eisenhower? “Nighthawks” at the bus stop? Come August, American art will be meeting the public in public, with such possible combinations as Grant Wood's “American Gothic” on a subway poster, a Frank Lloyd Wright stained-glass window on a bus stop's digital screen, and Andy Warhol's “Campbell's Soup Can,” a painting that critiques commercial culture, turned into a roadside billboard.

  • 'Railroaders' at the Chicago History Museum

    April 2, 2014

    Roundhouse worker William London is a sight: raccoon eyes, thanks to the goggles he had been wearing; soot on his face, thanks to his job amid coal-burning trains; and a freshly lit cigarette burning in his mouth.

  • Vivian Maier exhibit at Harold Washington Library

    April 2, 2014

    For a woman of mystery, the late North Shore nanny Vivian Maier certainly is easy to find these days. The latest installments in the posthumous story of Maier and the compelling photographic images she snapped — but rarely developed — come in a new film and newly opened gallery exhibition.

  • Can the arts get smart about the smartphone?

    March 28, 2014

    Shulamit Ran likes her ring tone.

  • Survival, extinction at Notebaert Nature Museum

    March 26, 2014

    The new exhibition at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is like a roll call of lost, or nearly lost, species: the passenger pigeon, the American bison, the black bear in Illinois, the Carolina parakeet.

  • 'Earth Explorers' exhibit overwhelms with sights, sounds, facts

    March 19, 2014

    The new "National Geographic Presents: Earth Explorers" exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry is a bit like its title or a good Chicago pizza: overstuffed, but with a lot of quality ingredients.

  • Biomechanics exhibit shines at Field Museum

    March 12, 2014

    It's when you're sitting in an office chair in the center of an interactive museum exhibit, swiveling around at a dizzying pace because you are flapping an arm-length wing, that it really hits you:

  • Reporter Bill Plante reflects on a changing White House

    March 10, 2014

    Bill Plante's journey from his Rogers Park upbringing to his current and longstanding post as CBS News White House correspondent has been, in many senses, a conventional one for reporters of a certain age. Plante, now 76, got into radio young — at 17, he recalls, in Evanston and then with WNIB-FM in Chicago — transitioned to television and then to the network. While covering some of the major events of the last half-century, he's earned a reputation for humility, hard work and a certain old-fashioned sense of the role of, as he puts it, "an actual, everyday, working reporter."

  • David Layman, exhibit designer, tells our harrowing stories

    March 7, 2014

    The signs spread across the floor of a high-end Chicago printer's office on this winter Friday afternoon probably should seem disjointed or abstract.

  • David Layman on situating Field Museum's Sue

    March 7, 2014

    David Layman describes his approach, as Field Museum's lead exhibit designer, to situating Sue, the world's most famous and expensive T. rex skeleton, in the museum for her 2000 debut:

  • Review: 'Sirens' takes comedy for a ride

    March 5, 2014

    In concept, "Sirens" could be the third leg of Dick Wolf's Chicago first-responders stool, a locally made show about paramedics to go with his series about cops ("Chicago P.D.") and firefighters ("Chicago Fire").

  • Fire Museum of Greater Chicago settles into new home

    February 26, 2014

    The Fire Museum of Greater Chicago isn't a grandiose thing, looming over a park like the Field Museum or over Michigan Avenue like the Art Institute.

  • Poehler, Biden boost Meyers' 'Late Night' debut

    February 25, 2014

    Seth Meyers took the “Late Night” stage Monday night like a man who didn’t have anything to prove.

  • Fallon a gracious host in 'Tonight Show' debut

    February 18, 2014

    Starting his “Tonight Show” hosting tenure Monday, Jimmy Fallon proved he can snag A-listers and, in the early going, ratings. The numbers that came out Tuesday showed him crushing the competition, at least for now. 

  • Flower power at the Chicago Botanic Garden

    February 12, 2014

    It's not the Fakahatchee swamp, exactly, inside the Chicago Botanic Garden public greenhouse building known as the Regenstein Center.

  • Primates use iPads in zoo study

    February 5, 2014

    Most afternoons at the Lincoln Park Zoo, visitors can see something that is both extraordinary and a sight they may also have witnessed in the back seat on the way to the zoo: a primate using an iPad.

  • James Franco to talk poetry for Humanities Fest

    January 29, 2014

    Actor James Franco will talk poetry and filmmaking as he headlines a February event in Chicago, the Chicago Humanities Festival announced Wednesday.

  • In 'Out at CHM,' gay history is museum-ready

    January 20, 2014

    When "Out at CHM" began in 2004, the idea for the series was "to do more inclusive history about the city of Chicago, to do more history that was risk-taking," said Jill Austin, a curator at the Chicago History Museum.

  • When it comes to burning energy, humans are slacker mammals

    January 14, 2014

    You may think you're working hard. But relative to other mammals, you're kind of a slacker.

  • Dick Wolf talks about his new series 'Chicago PD'

    January 7, 2014

    After a couple of decades of centering his TV empire on New York, the home of "Law & Order" and most of its spinoffs, the veteran producer Dick Wolf has suddenly become a man of the Midwest.

  • Museums' reach is wider than walls

    December 12, 2013

    Most of Chicago's major zoos and museums are more than just showpieces for their collections, animal or anthropological.

  • Review: 'Furious Cool' by David Henry and Joe Henry

    November 10, 2013

    In truth, there has been just one big new Richard Pryor pop-culture artifact of recent vintage, this year's Showtime documentary “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic.” But even that feels like a cavalcade, because Pryor lived such a vivid life, blazed such a clear trail through America, American comedy and American movies that attempted to be comic. When you learn about him, or are reminded of him, he sticks with you. And now comes a new biography that, with fits of lyricism and surprising patches of original research, seconds and builds on the work done by the film and will implant Pryor in our consciousness for years to come — as, the book makes clear, he deserves to be.

  • Meet our oldest animals in Chicago

    November 7, 2013

    From a cockatoo at the Brookfield Zoo to a chimpanzee in Lincoln Park, animals at zoos are living longer. Cookie, the Brookfield Zoo's resident 80-year-old cockatoo, was in fine form Tuesday morning. ...

  • At MSI, a power play with a specific goal

    September 18, 2013

    At the Museum of Science and Industry, past energy is amply represented. The Coal Mine exhibit is a behemoth, an all-star there for eight decades running.

  • From Nazis to Lincoln, from World's Fair to bees

    August 30, 2013

    Once again this year, the fall museum and zoo schedules are full, and not just because of the now-requisite Halloween and Christmas programming. Highlights include a World's Fair revisitation at the Field, commemoration of the Gettysburg Address' 150th anniversary at Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and new holiday fare, including an ice-skating rink at Lincoln Park Zoo and a new variety of winter light display at the Morton Arboretum.

  • New direction for the Field, with a curious blogger leading the way

    August 21, 2013

    "It doesn't look like it would do very well in the water," Emily Graslie is saying, dryly.

  • Blue Men wanted: Auditioning for Chicago's 'Blue Man Group'

    July 26, 2013

    It's not easy becoming blue. It's pretty easy to be sad. It's a piece of cake to paint your face cerulean or powder or some other sky or sea shade. But actually becoming a Blue Man? That's a multipart challenge, sort of a decathlon of acting, or, perhaps, a postmodern pentathlon.

  • Specializing in the outdoors: It's summer at the Morton Arboretum

    June 26, 2013

    When people talk about the Morton Arboretum, the too easily overlooked west suburban woodland preserve and living laboratory, summer is not the first season that falls from their tongues or springs to their minds.

  • Monkeys take center stage in $15M Lincoln Park Zoo construction plan

    June 26, 2013

    Lincoln Park Zoo will feature a new Japanese macaque exhibit and a new train for little kids under a construction plan announced by officials at the Chicago zoo Wednesday.

  • Richard Pryor and Don Draper, soul mates

    June 19, 2013

    Somewhere in the middle of Showtime's new documentary about Richard Pryor, it hit me: They're also talking here about Don Draper, the antihero at the center of the TV series "Mad Men," which concludes its sixth season Sunday night.

  • The Force not always with Star Wars

    June 13, 2013

    Since I expressed displeasure last month with Star Wars and the cultural expectation that we know and care all about it, I've received a steady stream of letters offering critiques of my viewpoint, although "critique" may be too delicate a word for some of the sentiments expressed therein.

  • Star Wars is overrated: Blasphemy or truth?

    May 31, 2013

    More than two years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed by the hype and moved to write the following piece, which some readers viewed as anti-“Star Wars.” So you can imagine how it’s going for me this week, as the excitement over the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” goes full throttle. Happy reading, everyone, and don’t look for me at Comic Con. - S.J.

  • Chicago native Susan Aikens stars on NatGeo's 'Life Below Zero'

    May 29, 2013

    Seeing Susan Aikens in "Life Below Zero," the new National Geographic Channel reality series about enduring Alaska, it's hard to fathom that she was once a child of Chicago's northwest suburbs. Aikens, who for 11 years has run the Kavik River Camp near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, seems so at home in her parka and her remote outpost that it's hard to imagine her anywhere else.

  • Toned down 'Today Show' hits Chicago

    May 22, 2013

    Big picture, not much went right for the “Today Show's” planned broadcast from Chicago this week. 

  • Secret's out: Brookfield Zoo dolphins are pregnant

    May 21, 2013

    One secret to a dolphin ultrasound is that the machine is pretty much the same one used on human women, except the “Logiq e Vet” branding badge is replaced with something more species-appropriate.

  • Stingray Touch exhibit opens for summer at Shedd Aquarium

    May 15, 2013

    The surprise isn't that the Shedd Aquarium now has an exhibit where visitors can touch stingrays as they glide by, but rather that the most popular aquarium in the U.S. hasn't had one before now.

  • 'Cosmic Wonder': New Adler show goes deep into universe

    May 14, 2013

    I've seen three shows now in Adler Planetarium's still new, still state-of-the-art central domed theater, and I remain amazed at the quality of the celestial imagery and at the precision with which it is projected up on the dome.

  • Peter Sagal takes educational ride with 'Constitution USA'

    May 6, 2013

    “Constitution USA With Peter Sagal,” the new PBS series about the country's ever-disputed founding document, tests an important constitutional principle: that the framework for a federal government, drafted with high hopes and noble purpose back in 1787, can be taught via flush toilets, marijuana buds and a public-radio host riding a Harley.

  • 'Alpha' leads Amazon's pilot pack

    May 2, 2013

    Not content to just sell us books, lawn implements, baseball bats, printers, devices to read books on, bar tools, printer paper, used printers, ink cartridges, used ink cartridges and automobile floor mats — did I miss anything? — Amazon is trying to join cable, broadcast and Netflix in providing America with original, TV-like series.

  • 'Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!' hits the silver screen

    April 30, 2013

    Peter Sagal is, at minimum, amused to be following a theatrical-presentation path cleared by Glenn Beck.

  • Steve Harvey hits on winning daytime formula

    April 23, 2013

    "Steve Harvey" is not everyone's cup of afternoon tea.

  • Chicago Humanities Festival lets in the Animal

    April 23, 2013

    In announcing its fall programming theme, “Animal: What Makes Us Human,” the Chicago Humanities Festival provides one answer to the question that, for want of a question mark, it doesn't quite pose.

  • Let's talk about the Comcast experience

    April 9, 2013

    Consumer loyalty, in the digital media era, seems to be as valued as an AOL start-up disk. Customers of most cellphone companies finish their contracts and win the right to keep paying the same high prices that supposedly included the cost of their once-new phones.

  • Going one-on-one with Paula Poundstone

    March 28, 2013

    (BY STEVE JOHNSON) ... Paula Poundstone lives in Santa Monica, Calif. "We're near the Jack in the Box," she says. "But I don't like to brag." And although she doesn't perform her stand-up comedy in Chicago often, she's here all the time.

  • To Xfinity, and beyond: A critique of television providers

    March 22, 2013

    Even now, even as paid critics become an endangered species, there remains a lot of television criticism, discussion of the import and meaning of the various filmed entertainments that flicker across our ever-larger screens. 

  • Exhibit at Field Museum sheds light on Lascaux caves

    March 20, 2013

    “It's almost too beautiful,” said the first scientist to descend into the Lascaux caves, according to “Scenes From the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux,” an important and highly engaging new exhibit at the Field Museum.

  • 'Animal Inside Out' is Body Worlds' take on beasts and birds

    March 13, 2013

    The last time the Body Worlds people displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry, in a 2011 exhibition showing the development and decline of the human corpus, they included, with seeming incongruity, an ostrich.

  • Ocean wonders abound in Field Museum's 'Creatures of Light'

    March 6, 2013

    It's dark in the rooms that hold the new exhibition at the Field Museum, dark almost like in the deep ocean where many of the featured "Creatures of Light" live.

  • 'This American Life' tackles Chicago violence

    February 13, 2013

  • Beck Bennett's calling answered with AT&T ads

    January 30, 2013

    It probably still happens the old-fashioned way: a beautiful face spotted sipping a milkshake at Schwab's, a screen test and stardom.

  • Song barkers: Cutting through the 'Heys'

    January 23, 2013

    There's a question that someone paying close attention to contemporary pop music would not be considered crazy for asking:

  • Music story isn't over yet for Dolly Varden

    January 17, 2013

    A sampling of how it works for a rock 'n' roll band in middle age:

  • Logging family time with Lincoln

    January 16, 2013

    Abraham Lincoln has been given many titles over the years: Rail Splitter, Great Emancipator, even, to the detriment of the undead, Vampire Hunter.

  • 'Shameless' season 3 review: Bumpy start but room to grow

    January 9, 2013

    To spend time with the Gallaghers, of Chicago's South Side and Showtime's Sunday night lineup, is to enter a world of unrelenting near chaos. Almost every time the viewer blinks, an eye is blackened or love is made or fraud is committed.

  • Adler Planetarium names Michelle Larson new president

    December 11, 2012

    Michelle Larson's faculty page at Utah State University displays a picture of her cozying up to a bust of Albert Einstein. Lego Albert Einstein.

  • Power is on at ZooLights in Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoo's Holiday Magic

    December 5, 2012

    You can call it humbuggery, but I had a pretty low-voltage reaction to ZooLights the first time I went to see it, probably 10 years ago.

  • What is the future of Lincoln Park Zoo's rabies program in Africa?

    December 4, 2012

    BUNDA, Tanzania — Tucked in a quiet corner of the bustling area occupied by this town's bus station and central market, the setup doesn't look like much: a few of the country's ubiquitous four-wheel-drive vehicles, some men in dress shirts, and a red bucket and a couple of picnic coolers that are at least as beat-up as the trucks.

  • Chicagoan saves one dog at a time from rabies in Africa

    December 3, 2012

    NANGALE, Tanzania — Only about half the dogs Anna Czupryna is studying in Tanzania have names. Dogs are different here. They are foragers and night watchmen who are treated more like livestock than pets.

  • Lincoln Park Zoo works to eradicate rabies in Africa

    December 1, 2012

    NANGALE, Tanzania — Huddled with his younger brother, the young man laughs easily, conspiratorially, at the commotion caused by the presence of curious foreigners in his family's modest compound outside this small village. 

  • Zoo's anti-rabies program attracts local donations, big and small

    December 1, 2012

    Drink lemonade, save a lion.

  • At City Winery opener, Lewis Black stews while kitchen lags behind

    August 16, 2012

    Lewis Black goes from zero to peripatetic faster than almost anybody you've met, or seen.

  • Reopened Santa's Village feeds nostalgia

    August 14, 2012

    It is probably not accurate and certainly not provable to say Phil Wenz willed Santa's Village back into being. But it's not a crazy thing to believe either.

  • Don't touch that NPR dial

    July 13, 2012

    For a confederation of supposed liberals, public radio can be awfully conservative.

  • Three summer reality TV shows use Chicago settings, but only one satisfies

    June 27, 2012

    Jerry Springer may have abandoned Chicago three years ago, but the impresario of camera-ready interpersonal conflict will be pleased to know that his influence remains.

  • Ecologically advanced Smart Home at Museum of Science and Industry redesigned

    June 27, 2012

    They weren't kidding when they named the modular house just east of the main Museum of Science and Industry building the Smart Home.

  • Reviews from Just for Laughs Chicago: Kevin Smith, Hannibal Buress, Janeane Garofalo + Kyle Kinane, Scott Adsit + Kevin Dorff, Patton Oswalt and Stephen Merchant

    June 15, 2012

    Going into "An Evening with Kevin Smith," it was difficult to imagine Smith answering audience questions as a Chicago Theatre show and one of the centerpieces of this year's TBS Just for Laughs Chicago comedy festival.

  • So these new comedy clubs walk into Chicago ...

    May 10, 2012

    One Friday night in Chicago, two stand-up worlds. The first world: In the established, Old Town room, the nationally known Greg Proops fires off his California hipster comedy, heavy on attitude, high on his own intelligence, thick with high-culture words and pop-culture references.

  • 'Change agent' for the Field Museum

    April 14, 2012

    In choosing controversial former University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere as its likely next chief executive, the Field Museum has opted for a "change agent," according to the man hiring him, and a "gentleman with elbows," according to one of the references the Field received about the scholar and veteran university administrator.

  • Super Bowl ad winners and losers

    February 7, 2012

    To the showrooms, America! Automobile advertising dominated Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI, with everything from apocalypse-defying Chevy trucks to a vampire-killing Audi. Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood, Chrysler and General Electric pushed economic recovery and patriotism during the marketing 'n' football extravaganza, while Budweiser and the NFL delivered history lessons. Pop culture references fizzled (Ferris Bueller) and sparkled (Twinkies), while the E-Trade baby and chimps did their usual crowd-pleasing things. Oh, and GoDaddy, once again, delivered its particular version of class.

  • Those party photos could cost you a job

    January 17, 2012

    In a controversial twist on the exploding use of online social media, more employers are poring over the websites to weed out job applicants whose posts reveal that they use foul language, take drugs, associate with gangs or have other questionable characteristics. Some employers are even demanding that job candidates disclose their social network user names and passwords up front.

  • Lifetime's 'Untouchable' throws the book at Drew Peterson

    January 16, 2012

    It's rare that you can say a piece of television is inevitable. But throughout the media circus following the disappearance of Stacy Peterson, the notion that there would be a Drew Peterson Lifetime movie was about as close to a sure thing as you could get.

  • Showtime's 'Shameless' hits its wobbly stride

    January 4, 2012

    It would be easy to write the series "Shameless" off as another cable TV excuse to show nudity, alcoholism, rampant drug use, petty theft, unlicensed day care, home growing, purse emptying, fiscally motivated courting, foster child exploitation, credit card fraud, murder by information omission, wife cheating, ice-cream-truck-based beer selling, Little League bookmaking and behind-the-back name calling.

  • Oprah begins 'Next Chapter' with Steven Tyler interview, mixed results

    January 3, 2012

    There is a moment in the first episode of "Oprah's Next Chapter," the new celebrity and spiritual travelogue starring Oprah Winfrey and also her interview subjects, that feels more like something out of "This Is Spinal Tap" than a star debriefing on an ostensible cable network for women.

  • 'Bossypants' an entertaining but safe foray into Fey's life

    April 14, 2011

    Tina Fey doesn't tell a lot of stories on herself, not really, in her new book "Bossypants," which is actually bits of so many books that it could be placed fairly in Memoirs, Management, Women's studies, Comedy, or that section where they give you book club recommendations. (This assumes that you can find a non-shuttered bookstore.)

  • Chicago's lord of the riff is king of New Yorker

    November 11, 2010

    To anyone who has encountered New Yorkers' maddeningly internalized sense of superiority about their place of residence, a hubris perhaps best expressed in Saul Steinberg's famous New Yorker magazine cover, "View of the World from 9th Avenue," here is a bit of good news. This also applies to those who take the Chicago-as-Second-City thing a little too personally.

  • Ticked-off Sue's eyeing you, bud

    May 27, 2010

    It is, apparently, lonely at the top of the list of the world's most intact Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons.

  • What statement did the 'American Gothic' knockoff make about public art?

    September 30, 2009

    It's not a shocker, really, that the figures lifted from one of American art's most famous images and made enormous and three-dimensional have proved so popular.

  • 5 shocking revelations from the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

    December 10, 2008

    The most shocking revelations in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich (after, that is, the specific criminal charges):

  • Substance overcomes novelty

    July 24, 2007

    It was a bad night for news anchors and Washington bureau chiefs, the traditional interrogators of would-be holders of American high office.

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