I had never been to a Dick Blick art store, and it just so happened our hotel was right next door. It was Sunday evening, and it was open till at least 10 pm. It was two floors of art supply goodness. On the ground floor there was all the brushes, paints, and utensils for making art. In the basement, there was all the different painting surfaces, paper and canvas and all that. I certainly had never been to an art store that was so large that it took up two stories. It was crammed with customers, even on Sunday evening. It looked like most of the staff were students from the nearby Art Institute.
The Medieval and Renaissance section at the museum part of the Art Institute were amazing. We went over everything, taking photos, discussing medieval material culture, etc. There were a lot of artifacts that I had never seen in person. Things like boar swords, gun shields, configurations of maces, poleaxes, and polearms, even weaves of maille I’d never seen before.
The Pompei exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry was powerful. A two millennia old way of life frozen in time. The body castes of the victims, frozen in ash, were unnerving. They very much felt like fellow humans, like that could have been our ends had we been there.
I get emotional at historical exhibits. I always have. Civil War museums are tough on me, because it’s not that far removed for us, and the tragedy of lives ended so abruptly hits hard. That’s the thing about history–it’s never over, it’s never fair, and war is a distillation of everything horrible man can throw at each other.