With the winter holiday season coming to a close, it is time to look forward to a new year, and perhaps a new home for an exciting historical acquisition. Last November, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) launched its eighth annual exhibition showcasing nativity scenes from around the world. However, a rather unique object stood among the works more typically displayed in Art and Faith of the Crèche. Greeting guests from inside a vitrine as they entered the exhibit space was a 42 cm tall statuette of the infant Christ. LUMA hopes to raise the donations necessary to acquire this object, with senior curator Jonathan P. Canning saying, “I envision it exhibited at the beginning of the annual crèche exhibition, connecting it to the D’Arcy [Collection of medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art] on the floor above.”
The following review evaluates the latest exhibition on display at the Newberry Library. It is free and open to the public from 8:15 am – 7:30 pm on Tuesdays through Thursdays, and from 8:15 am – 5:00 pm on Fridays through Mondays.
Chicago-area scholars are most assuredly acquainted with the diverse array of historical resources available at the Newberry Library. However, what would happen if pieces from their acclaimed collections found a way off the shelves and into a gallery space? The answer can be found in a new exhibition called “Stagestruck City.”
According to the first didactic panel visitors encounter upon entering the exhibit, the show’s story is about the venerable Goodman Theatre, Chicago’s oldest center for performing arts. It aims to explore “the theatre’s founding within the context of a remarkable heritage of live performance and popular amusement in the city.” This mention of “context” is critical for the exhibition as a whole, as one of its greatest strengths is delving into the intricacies of the Goodman’s founding while not overwhelming the audience with details about just one location. Indeed, the exhibition begins by examining theatres that reigned over the Second City’s entertainment industry decades before the Goodman was even conceived.
The first segment of gallery space succeeds in drawing in the visitor. The vibrant posters from places like the Adelphi Theatre and Col. Wood’s Museum (left) are mesmerizing examples of ephemera, and scanning through them could make readers feel like they themselves are late-nineteenth century theater buffs. Before 1871, contemporary plays could amusingly share the stage with more carnivalesque attractions such as the world’s largest lion! Everything changed, though, with the Great Chicago Fire. The conflagration consumed Chicago’s entertainment venues, providing an opportunity for more grandiose theatrical arenas to rise in their wake.