The Art Institute's Hidden Gem

​This weekend I went to the Art Institute for my usual monthly perusal. As a member at the Art Institute –which I might add has been voted the #1 museum in the world by Trip Advisor –I pay a student membership fee of $50 for the year. This gives me unlimited access to the museum; the ability to bring one guest for free every time I visit; discounts in the gift shop, café, special lectures and valet parking (although I don’t see myself driving to the museum anytime soon); and even free hot chocolate in the winter time in the member lounge. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth the investment. 

My shameless plug for the Art Institute is for a good reason. While I have visited the Art Institute a countless number of times since I gained my membership my freshman year, this past weekend, I discovered the Art Institute’s hidden gem…the PAPERWEIGHT COLLECTION.


Beauty and timelessness aren’t probably the first two words that come to mind when you think of paperweights. But once you visit the Art Institute’s paperweight collection extravaganza, you won’t be able to associate paperweights with any other words. Placed in the basement of this huge museum, you definitely have to actively search for this exhibit, but it’s worth the search!

The paperweights came in all sorts of colors and sizes, which was quite interesting. Most of the paperweights came from France, however there was also an American display of paperweights.

While viewing the display, I also learned some fun facts about paperweights:

  • The first dated American paperweight was produced by the New England Glass Company for the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.
  • The modern invention of the blowtorch and the propane gas furnace allowed individual artists to experiment with paperweight production.
  • American glassworker Charles Kaziun was recognized as the first notable glass studio artist.

Well I’m sure that you’d never thought you would know all that information about paperweights, but they say you learn something new everyday. Another successful trip to the Art Institute for the books! 

 
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