It has been several years since I have been able to visit the Field Museum and it was the occasion of some exciting events related to Latinx Heritage Month that drew me to the press event on September 14th for a little sample of what museum visitors will be able to experience.
The public will have many opportunities to participate in all kinds of Latinx related activities during this special month from September 15 to October 15. There are several days during this time where museum entry will be free.
During the time I was there it was thrilling to see a dance performance in Stanley Field Hall presented by La Escuelita Bombera de Corazón, an African and Puerto Rican diasporic performance school located in the historic Humboldt Park Puerto Rican Community. This group was so enthusiastic and engaging that a large number of audience members joined in the dancing when invited to do so, myself included.
I was fascinated when talking with scientists in the Grainger Science Hub as they related the work they are doing in Chicagoland and in the Amazon related to ecology. My colleague, Jeff, and I had the opportunity of seeing and touching local mushrooms. There is a video showing scientists at work in the field. And there are informative brochures for the taking as well as some seeds for native plants gathered from the gardens surrounding the museum. We were able to talk with Lorena Lopez, a Senior Community Engagement Specialist for the Keller Science Action Center at the Field © Field Museum and Mariana Herrera a Scientific Affiliate at the Field Museum whose research focuses on the diversity and systematics of macrofungi © Field Museum
There are many activities from which visitor can select. Throughout the month, one can visit the Science Hub and see some of the work scientists, researchers, and staff are doing with Latinx communities in Latin America and Chicago, and see items from the museum’s collections from these regions. I loved my visit to the Hub and the chance to get material about our local area, watch videos about people doing this work and talk with some of those people. The artifacts were interesting to see and touch.
“We’re excited to share the extraordinary work of our Field Museum staff from the collaborative work with Latinx communities here in Chicago and abroad, to the critical work they’re doing in Latin America, helping preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations,” says Vicky Sanchez, the Field Museum’s annual fund and membership director and one of the organizers of its Latinx Heritage Month efforts. “Through our collections, we’re highlighting the rich tapestry of our culture and traditions. Todos son bienvenidos— all are welcome!”
Other programming includes weekly presentations in the Grainger Science Hub and bilingual story time in the Crown Family Playlab on Wednesdays, and various performances from different Chicago Latinx cultural groups and organizations like the Ballet Folklorico de Chicago and Comunidad Kichwa Runa.
Before we left we went to see the recently opened exhibition Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories which highlights Native historic and present-day stories of sovereignty, resilience, continuity, and the future. Visitors have the opportunity to get a close-up look at California basketry traditions passed on across generations, experience music-making through the eyes of a young Lakota hip hop artist, follow the process of Meskwaki efforts to revitalize heirloom and ancestral plants, delve into the history and importance of Chaco Canyon, and visit the Pawnee Earth Lodge in a new context. We thought this was wonderful, interactive, intriguing and involving. There is so much to experience, we plan to return soon.
Visitors can take advantage of some of these events on Free Admission Days, which take place on September 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, October 4, 5, 11, and 12. Full in-person and virtual programming calendar can be found on the Field Museum’s website.