All That Glitters

Man’s love affair with gold is practically as old as man himself. It began as a tool, but its beauty and malleability quickly made it an object of desire and value, and these characteristics spawned journeys across oceans and continents. From South America to South Asia, from North America to South Africa, and everywhere in between the precious metal has dominated cultures and countries. 

Now gold is dominating the Field Museum, or at least a part of it. They’ve already got a healthy accumulation in the Ancient Egypt and Americas exhibits, the Grainger Hall of Gems, and the Anthropology collection. To add to those is Gold, a new temporary exhibit opening today.

[img_assist|nid=32035|title=White Sox Trophy|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=300]The exhibit begins with an introduction to its mineralogy and geology and is followed by examples of its properties. (It is a museum of Natural History, after all.) One of the most intriguing displays is the 300 foot square room that’s covered with 3 ounces of gold leaf! Visitors are then led in chronological order through displays of gold’s cultural impact, including displays of jewelry, artifacts, and weapons. While some of the metal’s more brutal past is touched on with mentions of Spanish shipwrecks and the hazards of mining, the exhibit mainly focuses on its beauty and value. Guests can marvel at designs by Cartier, ornaments from India and Iran, and gold coins that span the centuries. There are masks and dubloons and the Eureka Bar, a gigantic ingot from 1857 that is so massive it would have taken ten miners three years to amass that amount of gold. Chicago White Sox fans will delight in seeing the 2005 World Series Championship trophy.

Gold is seen as the standard for more than currency. It’s also a measure of a couple’s longevity. One of the Field Museum’s long-time volunteers, Marianne Schenker, and her husband Ben are celebrating their Golden Anniversary this year. To help them celebrate and to honor other couples who have stood the test of time the museum is opening its doors for free on December 4 to all couples who can prove they were married in 1960. In addition to a champagne toast and wedding cake, couples can also renew their wedding vows.

Gold is open until March 6, 2011, and access to the exhibit is included in Discovery and All-Access Passes.


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