By Alexandra Garfield
Kristen Delboccio decided Tuesday was the day to take her 6-month-old daughter, Jaelynn, to the Shedd Aquarium for the first time. They explored half the museum including the Carribbean Reef exhibit where they watched tropical fish and rays glide by before taking a lunch break outside – a hot dog for mom and Gerber puffs for Jaelynn.
“The best thing is seeing her eyes light up as the tropical fish swim by,” said Delboccio, who hasn’t visited the Shedd since high school. “She kept smiling and yelling, ‘ah!’ when the fish came close.”
But the experience might not have happened if not for Chicago’s inaugural Museum Week that runs through Wednesday.
“We came because of the free museum day,” Delboccio explained. “I didn’t want to pay a lot of money for something she won’t appreciate or remember.”
Chicago Museum Week began Oct. 1 and has featured special events and free admission days to 12 of Chicago’s top institutions for individuals and families, including The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Art Institute of Chicago.
Nearly every museum is still offering discounts and events in the final two days. The Adler Planetarium is offering free admission Oct. 6-7 and, exclusive during Museum Week, the Pluto Encounter Sky Show.
“People may have an idea of what they think museums are, but they are constantly changing,” explained David Deyhle, vice-president of external relations for the Chicago History Museum and co-chair of the committee that came up with Museum Week.
“For many people, it may have been a year or five years since they’ve been to a museum,” Deyhle said.
The Museum of Science and Industry offered free museum entry on Oct. 5-6 for Illinois residents. The Field Museum had free admission on Oct. 4 and special talks and tours. Visitors could go on museum orientation tours and see special Artist’s Studios at the Art Institute.
“The Art Institute is an iconic, world-renowned museum that is a cornerstone in the history of Chicago, so of course we’re a part of this inaugural event,” said Weslie Julian, assistant director of public affairs at the Art Institute.
After a year of planning, Chicago Museum Week has been a success so far, according to Deyhle, though numbers are not available on how many people have participated.
“People love and care for this city,” said Dehyle, “They want to see great things happen here. We have great cultural resources and we get to share those things with everyone.”