Friday, March 26, 2010


The Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the Chicago Public Library building, Randolph St. and Michigan Ave. Built in 1896.

If ever you listen to radio station WFMT's Wednesday "Dame Myra Hess" concerts broadcast live from Preston Bradley Hall, why, you might enjoy knowing that this is where they are performed. The arches and domed ceilings are a glittering Renaissance fantasy of verdant, coiling green mosaics on white marble, and of sublime quotes, carved in gold, about learning and wisdom in a dozen languages, including Chinese, Arabic, and Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The lamps are from a maharajah's palace; the names of the great stud the arches; the Tiffany dome is the largest such in the world.

Even the carpets are beautiful.

The work of master mosaicists, and master woodcarvers, circa 1896.

Shall we decorate the underside of a staircase? Yes, let's.

Shall we also carve the ceiling, deeply? Yes.

The Hall of the Grand Army of the Republic on the second floor. No photograph can do justice to the scale of the two rooms -- the second lies beyond the open doors to the far right -- nor the size of those massive wooden doors. Alas, the room beyond was closed for a theatrical rehearsal, so I can offer no photos of opulent, martial swords-and-bunting wood carvings all around its ceiling, nor of the names of the Grand Army's Civil War battles, stamped somberly six apiece over the doorways. Fort Sumter, Gettysburg, the March to the Sea, Cold Harbor -- in 1896, all were only thirty years gone.

Visions of Escher?

Mosaic work and marble.

Part of the Sidney Yates gallery, where we saw two modern art exhibitions. One was better than the other.

Lions guard the outdoors.

We forget, it was a library.

Vale, until next time.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Beautiful photos. Thanks for the virtual field trip.