Your first stop should be the Egyptian Gallery , which showcases the
finest objects among the 35,000 artifacts from the Nile Valley held by the
museum. At the center of the new gallery stands a monumental 17-foot solid-
quartzite statue of King Tutankhamen, the boy king who ruled Egypt from
about 1335 to 1324 B . C . The largest Egyptian sculpture in the Western Hemi-
sphere (tipping the scales at 6 tons), the Oriental Institute excavated it in 1930.
The surrounding exhibits, which document the life and beliefs of Egyptians
from 5000 B . C . to the 8th century A . D ., have a wonderfully accessible approach
that emphasizes themes, not chronology. Among them: mummification (there
are 14 mummies on display—five people and nine animals, including hawks, an
ibis, a shrew, and a baby crocodile), kingship, society, writing (including a deed
for the sale of a house, a copy of the Book of the Dead, and a schoolboy's home-
work), family, art, tools and technology, occupations, popular religion, medicine,
the gods, food, games, clothing, and jewelry. Kids will be especially interested in
two fragile objects used by Egyptian children: papyrus documents and a child's
linen tunic from 1550 B . C .
The institute also houses important collections of artifacts from civilizations
that once flourished in what are now Iran and Iraq. The highlight of the
Mesopotamian Gallery is a massive, 16-foot-tall sculpture of a winged bull
with a human head, which once stood in the palace of Assyrian King Sargon II.
The gallery also contains some of the earliest man-made tools ever excavated,
along with many other pieces that have become one-of-akin since the looting of
the National Museum in Baghdad in 2003. The Persian Gallery displays some
1,000 objects dating from the Archaic Susiana period (ca. 6800 B . C .) to the
Islamic period (ca. A . D . 1000). Other galleries are filled with artifacts from
Sumer, ancient Palestine, Israel, Anatolia, and Nubia.
The gift shop at the Oriental Institute, called the Suq, stocks many unique
items, including reproductions of pieces in the museum's collection. Allow 1 hour.
1155 E. 58th St. (at University Ave.). & 773/702-9514. www.oi.uchicago.edu. Free admission; suggested dona-
tion $5 adults, $2 children. Tues and Thurs-Sat 10am-4pm; Wed 10am-8:30pm; Sun noon-4pm. Bus: 6 or Metra
Electric train to 57th St. and Lake Park Ave.
Peace Museum Ages 8 & up. If you're making a trip to the Garfield Park
Conservatory, here's a second stop in the neighborhood. Located in the Garfield
Park Gold Dome, the Peace Museum presents four exhibits a year and keeps on
permanent display such 20th-century artifacts as manuscripts by Joan Baez,
Civil Rights-era photos, and a John Lennon guitar. The museum claims to be
the first and only of its kind, founded in 1981 by an artist-activist and a U.S.
ambassador to UNICEF, and dedicated to exploring the impact of war and
peace through the arts. Here's a little trivia for you: The rock group U2 named
one of its albums, The Unforgettable Fire, for an exhibition of drawings by sur-
vivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Bono and the boys viewed at this
Garfield Park Gold Dome, 100 N. Central Park Ave. (2 blocks south of Garfield Park Conservatory). & 773/
638-6450. www.peacemuseum.org. Admission $3.50 adults; $2 seniors, students, and children. Thurs-Sat
11am-4pm. Subway/El: Green Line to Conservatory/Central Park Dr.
Polish Museum of America Ages 6 & up. One million people of Polish
ancestry live in Chicago, giving the city the largest Polish population outside of
Warsaw. So it's no surprise that Chicago is the site of the Polish Museum of
America, located in the neighborhood where many of the first immigrants set-
tled. This museum has one of the most important collections of Polish art and