I was walking along wondering what was along the way that I could do and then I stumbled upon the Federal Reserve Money Museum!
I've walked passed it so many times and have always wanted to walk in!
The museum is completely free, you just have to go through the backpack scanner, the metal detector, and show a photo ID! It was a small, little place but was filled with old bills and coins from Colonial and American history, information about inflation, economics, the FED, and counterfeiting. I was pretty good at finding the counterfeit bills at the "Know Your Bills" interactive exhibit!
This cube is full of one dollar bills to make $1,000,000 and it ways more than 2,000 lbs!
There were free bags of shredded money! This bag contains approximately $384. So it MIGHT be worth trying to put back together again! (Only joking, of course).
After exploring all the little interactive stations, I left and continued my way to Michigan Ave. with a little more time to burn. As I walked, I saw some tents and followed the scent of bread to a little farmer's market by the Flamingo!
There were so many tasty baked goods to sample! I decided after my lesson I would come back and get a muffin of some sort.
Eventually the time came for my lesson which brings me to the Chicago Fine Arts Building. A wonderful old building that feels... magical. Let me attempt to paint the picture for you:
You walk into 410 S. Michigan Ave. and are greeted by a cool air and a dimly lit entry completely built of marble:
The elevators are probably one of the last manned elevators left in the city and it is like something from a movie. There are the glass doors that separate each floor, and then a golden grate which closes to protect the elevator riders from the wall in between. I love ringing for the elevator because it makes a sharp bell ringing noise and then the ride is breezy since there are no doors on the elevator, only the golden grate.
Here are the elevators: I felt kind of silly taking a picture of the inside of the elevator with attendant and the other art patrons inside...
The hallways are rather dim also, and there is a ubiquitous smell of old wood, but it is pleasant scent (not dank or musty in any way). My shoes make a quiet little patter on the mosaic tiles and as I walk down the hall, I can hear a violin, cello, and piano furiously playing. Further down the hallway there is a woman belting a soulful jazz song. I must admit to eavesdropping on the other musicians in the building on more than one occasion, but the thin walls and scattered benches are quite the invitation for someone like me to anonymously enjoy the work of others. Maybe someday my music will make people want to stop and listen.
Once you reach the 6th floor, there are paintings like this on every wall and the stairwell is open to the 10th floor where there is a bright skylight. Today, in this open space, dancers were scurrying everywhere and a woman's enchanting operatic voice rang through whole space.
Upon my further exploration of the building, I met a pleasant gentleman who showed a plaque which commemorates Frank Lloyd Wrights studio, as well as the studios of the illustrators who worked on the Wizard of Oz book so many years ago. Coincidentally, he was also the owner of the sheet music store I was looking for (as well as a fellow violist). My music collection for the viola is sparse at best so I was more than enthused to find such a large viola solo book section. I ended up choosing a book of Bach's six cello suites transcribed for viola. They will pose me a challenge which I cannot wait to tackle when I start to play again in college.
As I made my way back to the train station, my mind was diverted when I thought I heard the sound of music playing. I followed my ear and it led me to a street musician in front of the Art Institute. I sat on the wall and listened to him played the keyboard for awhile. It surprised me how so many people could walk by such a great sound without even acknowledging the man and his music; especially when it pulled me a block and a half out of my way. But maybe I am just obsessed with melodic and harmonic sounds...
Then I returned to Union Station and sat with...
...my pumpkin cream cheese muffin and my Bach!
So that is how to waste time in Chicago, or at least how I decided to do it today! I like when I have the time to follow my nose or ear because that is when new sights are seen, new friends are made, and exciting adventures are had.
What sort of wonders have you discovered when you succumbed to an enticing sight or smell along your daily routine? Let me know in the comments below!