NFDA in Chicago is almost upon us, and here at Legacy, we’re all looking forward to welcoming you to our hometown! In addition to the conference itself, there are so many cool things to see and do here—you already know about the Bulls and the Bears and the Blackhawks games, but here are six more happenings of particular interest to our crowd that you might want to check out.
1. Day of the Dead exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Each fall for more than 30 years, the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 West 19th St.) has presented a new and unique exhibit around Dia de Muertos, the three-day festival honoring loved ones who have died. This year’s exhibition, entitled Dia de Muertos: A Matter of Life, is dedicated to those who were killed in the August 3 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and it features art and altars in memory of the dead by a wide variety of artists. On Sunday, October 27, from 3 to 8 p.m., the museum will hold the special event Day of the Dead Xícago, a free festival of music, altars, art, and food. (Go get your face painted in the afternoon, then come to the NFDA Welcome Reception!)
2. International Museum of Surgical Science. Not for the overly squeamish, the International Museum of Surgical Science boasts an extensive and weird collection of art and artifacts related to the surgical arts. In our wheelhouse, that includes things like a plaster cast of Napoleon’s death mask, a mural depicting surgeons studying a cadaver, and a rare collection of trephined skulls from ancient Peru (in a thankfully obsolete surgical procedure, a hole was drilled in the skull to relieve various conditions—a surgery that some patients actually survived). And if you’ll be sticking around in Chicago for a day or two after NFDA, you can attend the museum’s Memento Mori Gala, a Halloween party like none other.
3. Chicago’s most beautiful cemeteries. Three large 19th-century cemeteries are among the jewels of Chicago’s landscape. Rosehill Cemetery (5800 North Ravenswood Ave.), on the north side of town, is Chicago’s largest burial ground. It is home to Chicago Volunteer Firefighters’ Memorial, and notables buried in Rosehill include business magnates (and rivals) Aaron Montgomery Ward and Richard Warren Sears. Not far away is Graceland Cemetery (4001 North Clark St.). It’s an absolutely lovely place for a stroll, and you can visit the graves of movie critic Roger Ebert, boxer Jack Johnson, and detective Allan Pinkerton. Finally, on Chicago’s south side, you’ll find Oak Woods Cemetery (1035 East 67th St.). Near the historic Bronzeville neighborhood, it’s the final resting place to African-American luminaries including Olympic legend Jesse Owens, journalist Ida B. Wells, and gospel singer Pops Staples. Oak Woods is also the site of a sometimes-controversial Confederate monument, harking back to the days when the surrounding neighborhood was a Civil War POW camp where thousands of Confederate soldiers died and were buried.
4. David Kessler book signing. You don’t even have to leave McCormick Place to get to one of the most exciting things happening in Chicago this week. Renowned grief expert David Kessler—the late Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s coauthor who has spent decades working in palliative care, trauma response, and bioethics—will be signing free copies of his new book, “Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief,” at Legacy’s booth #384 at the NDFA Expo on Monday, October 28 between noon and 5:00 p.m. Kessler’s illuminating new work journeys beyond the classic five stages of grief to discover a new one: meaning. Be sure to come early before all the books are gone!
5. Mummies at the Field Museum. Chicago’s Field Museum has one of the country’s largest collection of mummies, with 23 human and more than 30 animal mummies displayed in their Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit. Discover the ancient roots of embalming via dioramas depicting the mummification process and visit a three-story replica of an Egyptian tomb with burial chamber rooms housing the collection. (There’s lots more to see at the Field, too, including the exhibition D-Day Warriors: American Indians in the Military and the ever-popular T. rex skeleton known as Sue.)
6. Two unique monuments of remembrance. Twenty years ago, Chicago’s National Veterans Art Museum commissioned a Vietnam War memorial called “Above and Beyond,” currently housed in the Harold Washington Library Center (400 South State St.). Comprising 58,307 dog tags hanging in chronological order, Above & Beyond commemorates every single one of the service members who died during the Vietnam War—the only such memorial to do so outside of The Wall in Washington, D.C., and it was actually physically created by veterans. More recently, two mothers of children lost to gun violence provided the creative spark behind the Gun Violence Memorial Project, where houses built of 700 glass bricks each represent the average number of lives lost to gun violence every week in the United States. Within the glass houses are artifacts of the lives of people who’ve been killed. This brand-new exhibit debuted in Chicago last month and will be here through 2020, when it’s expected to move to Washington, D.C. For now, you can see it at the Chicago Cultural Center (77 East Randolph St.).