Thursday, May 28, 2009

FIELD MUSEUM. North Portico

From time to time, standing on the North Portico of the Field Museum, it is possible to see the future. The singular wide angle view of the City shows isolated "events" before they become trends. A building somewhat taller. Of a different shape or material. Of color or position. In 1919, when the Museum was completed, Peirce Anderson would have seen the City becoming increasingly dense, but Michigan Avenue's towers of the 1920's were yet to be constructed. Nothing Deco. Nothing over-exuberant. Certainly nothing other than "open and free" in the Park. For the moment, it was possible to look confidently backward to Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago and believe it was the future. And to look at the traditions of the Columbian Expositon and believe that they would always be respected. Below is Henry Hering's allegorical sculpture "Science," commisioned by the Field and Anderson. Hering also sculpted the figural work at the 1893 Palace of Fine Arts.

There is nowhere in the City that exhibits the promise of Daniel Burnham, more clearly, than the North Portico of the Field Museum. And nowhere else that shows the danger, so persuasively, of its iminent loss.

CHICAGO PHOTOGRAPHS are available at

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