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Opening the Vaults at The Field
Looking down on the White City in 1893.

It’s been 120 years since the Chicago World’s Fair. We read the book. We took a running tour of the onetime “White City.” We should be sick of talking about it now, right? Wrong.

The Field Museum that Sue calls home today exists because of that fair. And its new exhibit, “Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair,” showcases artifacts from the cultural happening that just won’t go away.

These are the kinds of facts that keep us fascinated:

1. The fairgrounds were so large that 134 Field Museums could fit inside them. Or six Disney Magic Kingdoms.

2. More than 50,000 objects from the fair became The Field Museum’s founding collections--and most of them have been in storage until now.

3. One of the artifacts on display, the Elbogen Meteorite, is tiny for something thought to be cursed and dangerous--it weighs .084 ounces. When it fell to Earth in 1400, it weighed 235 pounds and over the centuries was broken into smaller pieces to send to other museums.

4. About 27 million tickets to the fair were sold in 1893, meaning a quarter of the world’s population flocked to Chicago over a six-month period. Just nine million tickets were sold to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London--that’s like .13 percent of the planet today. See, we’re barely missing out at all.

“Opening the Vaults” runs through September 7, 2014, at The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.; 312-922-9410 or

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