Along with bringing some chillier winds and colorful leaves to the area, this autumn season is bringing some new and updated exhibits to local museums. Here is a sampling of some to put on your calendar.
We're off to see the wizard
Head over the rainbow -- to Glenview -- to the land of Oz, a magical world first created in 1900 by author L. Frank Baum, at "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" exhibit at the Kohl Children's Museum.
"'The Wizard of Oz' is one of those classic stories that everybody loves and has fond memories of," said Kohl Children's Museum President and CEO Sheridan Turner.
Turner, stressing that the temporary exhibit is based on L. Frank Baum's original 1900 book, and not the 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland, said children and their families can become part of the story of Oz and its characters, Turner said.
Youngsters can explore Dorothy Gale's farm by trying on traditional farm clothing and counting chickens' eggs, and they can use Oz character puppets, explore how the heart works with the tin woodsman and build a scarecrow.
"This is one of those wonderful exhibits that inspire families to play and explore together," Turner said.
Throughout the exhibit's activity stations, guests will see the illustrations of W.W. Denslow, a Chicago artist whose artwork helped inspire some of the design elements in the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz."
"It's such a timeless favorite," Turner said. "We are inviting everyone to step back with us into Oz. It's going to be a magical fall."
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" exhibit is now open and runs until Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, at the Kohl Children's Museum, 2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview. Admission is $8.50-$9.50. Children younger than 1 and museum members admitted free. Call (847) 832-6600 or visit kohlchildrensmuseum.org.
What a Dickens!
Learn about the world of legendary English author Charles Dickens as the Lake County Discovery Museum honors the 200th anniversary of his birth with the "Dickens: 200 Years of Celebrity" exhibit.
See everything from first editions of Dickens' most famous tales to documents with Dickens' official signature. Guests can even get a peek at the ink well used by the author to write some of his famous tales, such as "A Christmas Carol" and "Oliver Twist."
"From that little pot sprang many of his most beloved characters," said Katherine Hamilton-Smith, director of cultural resources for the Lake County Forest Preserve District, in a telephone interview.
Many of the documents and objects on display come from a private Highland Park collector who has donated pieces of his own collection for the temporary exhibit, Hamilton-Smith said.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, the museum opens its holiday-based "A Dickens Christmas" exhibit, running in conjunction with the anniversary exhibit. Visitors can step back in time to walk down a re-created 1800s London street, inspired by Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
"Charles Dickens was one of the most enduring and creative geniuses of the modern language," Hamilton-Smith said fondly. "It's so wonderful to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his life."
"Dickens: 200 Years of Celebrity" is now open, and it runs through Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at the Lake County Discovery Museum, on Route 176, just west of Fairfield Road, in the Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. "A Dickens Christmas" opens on Saturday, Nov. 17, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $6 adults; $3 seniors ages 55 and older and students ages 18-25; $2.50 for ages 4 to 17. Children ages 3 and younger admitted free. On "Discount Tuesdays," admission is $3 adults and free for ages 17 and younger. (847) 968-3400 or lcfpd.org/dickens.
After being taken off display for more than a year, The Art Institute of Chicago reopened its "Arthur Rubloff Collection of Paperweights" exhibit on Friday, Sept. 28, in a renovated gallery, with nearly 500 more paperweights to see.
The collection, considered to be one of the premiere paperweight collections in the world, now features more than 800 paperweights, said Chai Lee, associate director of public affairs at the Art Institute of Chicago.
"This is a gem of a collection," Lee said. "People will be fascinated by the designs and the vibrant colors."
A number of the paperweights were made in France, Lee said. Many have floral themes. And not all are the typical round ball -- the collection boasts various shapes, including a weight in the shape of a pear, and one in the form of a drinking cup, Lee said.
Peeking into a paperweight is like looking into another world, Lee said, quoting the late American author Truman Capote, who once stated that a paperweight is "some fragment of a dream."
The "Arthur Rubloff Collection of Paperweights" is now on permanent display at The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Daily hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open until 8 p.m. Thursdays). Admission is $18 adults; $12 for seniors and students ages 14 and older. Kids younger than 14 admitted free. (312) 443-3600 or artic.edu.
'Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts'
Explore the opulent royal life of India's maharajas (kings) from the 1700s to the early 1940s as The Field Museum opens the "Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Court" exhibit on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
A golden throne, a bridal gown stitched with gold and a bejeweled wine flask coated in sapphires and rubies are a few of the "trinkets" to view.
"There is a certain amount of conspicuous consumption -- a lot of 'bling' in this exhibit," said Tom Skwerski, project manager for the exhibit at The Field Museum. "There is a wonderful history to learn about the maharajas, these rich kings. They played a role both culturally and politically in the history of India."
The Field Museum is the exhibit's final stop on its worldwide tour. Many of the objects on display come from private lenders and other museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Skwerski said.
"People will see so many beautiful objects. The idea of immense wealth certainly is at the forefront of people's minds when they think of the maharaja," Skwerski said. "They were truly royalty at the time."
"Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts" runs Wednesday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, at The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. The museum's daily hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets to "Maharaja" are included in Discovery and All-Access museum passes at $22-$29 for adults; $18-$24 seniors and students with ID; $15-$20 children ages 4-11. (312) 922-9410 or fieldmuseum.org.
Good old Charlie Brown
In a twist of fate, cartoonist Charles M. Schulz died the night before his final "Peanuts" comic strip ran in newspapers across the globe on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2000.
"Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy ... how can I ever forget them," Schulz had written in a signed farewell in that final Sunday strip.
"Peanuts" fans can now remember Schulz and get a closer look at his beloved "Peanuts" characters at "Charlie Brown and the Great Exhibit," opening Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
"Schulz captured the essence of everyone in his characters. Everyone can relate to them so well," said Jeff Buonomo, manager of temporary exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry. "And there is always poor Charlie Brown who never seems to have things go his way."
"Peanuts," which first ran on Oct. 2, 1950, in seven newspapers, eventually was read by more than 355 million people in 2,600 papers across the world.
Visitors to the MSI exhibit can view more than 90 reproductions and 10 original "Peanuts" comic strips -- most of them drawn on boards two feet wide or larger, Buonomo said.
"People will really be able to see the details, the lines and the style of Schulz," he added.
A reproduction of Schulz's Santa Rosa, Calif., art studio will also be on view, along with some of Schulz's personal belongings.
"You'll be able to see the desk where Schulz drew. And you can see where the desk became worn away over the years," Buonomo said.
Guests can also view photos from Schulz's life, to see how the shy boy from Minnesota who loved to draw created a cartoon empire.
"Schulz took such pride in creating this comic," Buonomo said.
"Charlie Brown and the Great Exhibit" runs Thursday, Oct. 25, through Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, at the Museum of Science and Industry, at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas). Exhibit requires an additional $3-$5 fee along with the $9-$15 general admission. (773) 684-1414 or msichicago.org.