Chicago's Field Museum - A Visit with Susie

Weekends are generally special times for out of the ordinary activities. For Susie Fine, who is developmentally disabled, weekends mean time alone with her father, Morrie and her caretaker, Zeny Borja. Instead of sharing facilities and attention with 16 other people, Susie has an entire house and two people devoted to her care. To make this time even more special, the weekends often include 'adventures'; trips to museums, restaurants, malls, special activities and so on.

Entering The Field Museum

I recently accompanied Susie, Morrie and Zeny on a visit to Chicago's Field Museum. The Museum dates to 1893 when it was incorporated as the Columbian Museum of Chicago in Jackson Park. Its purpose was the 'accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, and the preservation and exhibition of objects illustrating art, archaeology, science and history'. In 1905 its name and location were changed and it became The Field Museum of Natural History and it was moved to the museum campus joining the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. The museum came into being to house the biological and anthropological collections assembled for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. Since its founding, the Field Museum has had close ties with local universities and has been an international leader in evolutionary biology and paleontology, archaeology,and ethnograpy. On a cold, dark, December day in 2005, we went to visit the exhibit showing Pompeii on an August day in 79 AD.

Susie and "Sue"

We consulted the Field Museum Web Site ( and learned that the accessible entrance was located on the East side of the museum and handicapped parking was nearby. This entrance is new and very welcoming and with parking available, it is very convenient. However, we could not park in this lot that day because there was a special event. Sometimes, when special events are held at one of the museum campus locations, there is valet parking, and things don't always work the way they are supposed to. Of course, handicapped parking is ALWAYS supposed to be available regardless of special events. But it did not work for us and our experience was less pleasant than it should have been. I was told that this was a very unusual situation and that steps are being taken to correct the problem.

A nice lunch

We arrived in time for lunch. From several fast food restaurants available, we choose, 'The Corner Bakery' on the main floor near the entrance to the 'Pompeii Exhibit'. This also allowed Susie to visit Sue, the Field Museums' most famous dinosaur.

Entering the exhibit

At the appointed time, we joined the crowds heading to see the destruction wrought by Mt. Vesuvius on August 24 and 25, 79 AD. The exhibit, 'Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption', selected three villages along the Bay of Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplontis, to show the effects of the eruption. We entered a world both ancient and modern at once. We saw jewelry, coins, doctor's instruments, clothing and homes. The hundreds of objects displayed, including room sized frescoes and mosaics, marble and bronze sculpture, precious jewelry and a variety of everyday household objects and tools illuminated the lives of the people who were instantly destroyed. It was surprising that so many names were known and the details of their lives were very graphic.

A necklace from Pompeii

Volcanoes erupt in many ways, we learned. Though Mt. Vesuvius has had repeated eruptions, none has been the same as that of 79 AD. One powerful message of the exhibit was demonstrated by the plaster casts of the victims. Rich and poor, landowner or slave, people tried to escape the disaster clinging to whatever was precious to them. These cities were so completely buried that it wasn't until the mid 1700's that they were accidentally discovered. This fascinating exhibit can be seen until March 26, 2006.

Casts of Pompeii's victims

Tickets are available at or by phoning 312-922-9410. The cost ranges from $9 to $19 and discounts are available to Chicago residents.

This dinasour likes water , It is Lufengosaurus (loo-fung-oh-sawr-us) Yunnan,China 205-200 million year ago







Dinosaur Dynasty:Discoveries from China

We also visited the 'Dinosaur Dynasty' Exhibit and saw a series of dinosaurs almost familiar, but not quite.  The shapes and names were similar, but Chinese dinosaurs are unique and some are very birdlike. It was neither as large or as busy as the Pompeii Exhibit. Being able to push a button and have a child's voice pronounce impossibly difficult dinosaur names and the places where the remains were found was a charming feature of this exhibit.

You will learn the difference between reptiles and dinosaurs. 'Dinosaur Dynasty: Discoveries from China' can be seen until April 23, 2006. Tickets are available as stated above and are the same cost.



This is birdlike, Oviraptor(Oh-vi-rap-tor), Inner Mongolia, China 80-73 million yearss ago

The Field Museum boasts several gift shops. We exited the dinosaur exhibit into the main gift shop and explored it. On our way out, there was another gift shop that features items associated with the Egyptian Exhibit. Susie will probably enjoy another 'adventure' to the 'King Tut Exhibit' which begins in May, 2006, provided the handicapped parking is more reliable. The museum visit was greatly enhanced for us because Jared Astor in Protection Services was very helpful.

Exploring the main gift shop - The Egyptian Gift Shop, King Tut is coming

When the weekend ends, Susie returns to a Clearbrook managed home in Gurnee, Illinois where she has lived for the past 20 years. 'Clearbrook is committed to being a leader in creating innovative opportunities, services and support for people with disabilities'. They serve the needs of individuals in more the 40 communities. Their services can be explored at and they can be reached at 847-385-5013.

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