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Listening to the Chicago Cultural Center

Listening to the Chicago Cultural Center


There were a lot of things I planned to do when I went to Chicago in late April. Unfortunately, very few of them could be done while there were chunks of ice falling from the sky.

“Is this hail?” I asked my sister. “Is your city hailing on us?”

“Just a little,” she said. Apparently, living in Chicago makes you used to this sort of thing.

But as my other sister and I only have the cold tolerance of normal people, we decided to look for something to do that was both nearby and indoors. A quick search brought us to the Chicago Cultural Center. I knew exactly two things about the Cultural Center. One, it had pretty glass domes. Two, there was probably no hail inside. Good enough for me.


We walked inside – and into the middle of what looked like a dance party. Really. There was music, and fancy lighting, and an actual dance floor, and a bunch of people who looked like they were having a pretty good time. It turned out this is a thing that the Cultural Center does sometimes, which made it already cooler then most of the old buildings I visit.


The first room we visited was Shawn Decker’s Prairie, a sound sculpture.


Now, I wasn’t exactly sure what a sound sculpture was. At first glance it seemed to be something highly technological – a collection of wires and circuits, chirping and chiming in some sort of pattern.  When I closed my eyes, though, things became very different. The sounds became rustling leaves and buzzing insects, and they travelled through the room in continuously changing ways.The sound of rain started, softly at first, then picking up as we left.


Of the other exhibits, we spent the most time looking at Hale Woodruff’s murals.  I couldn’t take pictures, but they’re definitely worth checking out online.


Then my sister filled in as tour guide and explained the building’s history as we looked at the lovely glass domes and the tile mosaics on the stairways. Even without any sun out, the reflected light through the building was beautiful.


So I decided to forgive Chicago for the hail. As long as it doesn’t become a habit.


  1. You’re already much smarter than me. I’ve gone to Chicago twice in April, never learning my lesson that Chicago in April is WINTER. I ducked into a few art museums to escape the ice (after riding the ferris wheel in the frigid air). But I have not been to the Cultural Center. It looks really cool (not cool as in cold, though). I’ll check it out next time.
    Juliann recently posted…The Magical Swirl of the Bio BayMy Profile

    • I’d like to take credit for being smart, but I don’t know if it counts as learning something when you only notice it’s winter after the city starts throwing ice at you. :)

    • It was free, too. That’s always a plus!

  2. What a great idea – I have heard of other Museums and Art Galleries that have these relaxed party nights/days. It certainly is a beautiful building and I would like to hear the sound sculpture room. And it is free – bonus!
    budget jan recently posted…Florence Bay on Magnetic IslandMy Profile

    • I don’t know if I would have checked it out if I’d had to pay an entrance fee, so it turned out to be a fortunate surprise!

    • I was that way about NYC – I commuted in for 2 years of school, but the only time I ever actually saw the city was when a friend visited and I went around with them. Sometimes I think it’s easier to appreciate a place when you aren’t there all the time.

    • I think the sound exhibit ended right after we visited, but the building is definitely worth checking out!

    • June should be better! I’ve gotten hailed on in July, but I was in the Yukon then, so I sort of expected it.

  3. I’ve been in the Chicago Cultural Center before, but your pics gave me a new view to the place through your lens. The weather in the Windy City is something I don’t miss anymore. :)
    Mig recently posted…Street entrepreneurs in ColombiaMy Profile

    • I had several people warn me about Chicago weather before I went, too, but I figured since it was almost May, it couldn’t be that bad. Oops.

    • It was really cool, I’d never seen one before.


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