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No place like home

Field Museum gives visitors a taste of different cultures

CHICAGO – Temporary exhibits bring new life to a museum, yet permanent finds remain great attractions.

At The Field Museum, the Pawnee earth lodge allows visitors to step into the life of this Native American tribe sometime in the 1800s. The landscape is that of Nebraska.

It's not often that a full-size replica of an earth lodge can be explored at something other than arms' length. Visitors can walk into the lodge, where they are able to make themselves at home. They can perch on buffalo-robe beds, touch the implements of life – pottery, beadwork, and weaponry – and even examine the fire pit.

Check out the spoon carved from buffalo bone and the children's toys. Docents are there to talk about Pawnee life and tales. One final act remains, take a look at the evening sky before leaving.

After checking out the Pawnee way of life, move along "many miles" to the Traveling the Pacific permanent exhibit. A tropical island destination brings visitors to an area where they can use touch and sight in their efforts to learn about another culture.

Rocks make up a solid part of tropical islands. Explorers are able to touch the different types that helped create an oasis on the blue ocean. An outrigger canoe is there to be looked over. Travelers will find out how islanders moved around the Pacific by using the sky and ocean currents.

An up-to-date marketplace in Tahiti is displayed. Here, vendors sell carrots, fishing gear, and baskets. Or look back to the early 1900s for a lesson on village life and who did what.

In a visitor's cultural walk, do not miss the Maori Meeting House and do not be intimidated by the larger number of faces looking at those who arrive. The Maori originated in New Zealand, and it is said to be their ancestors who gaze from the walls. At the top of the roof, however, is the face of Ruatepupuke, an ancestor who brought woodcarving to the world.

The meeting house was built in 1881 in Tokomaru Bay. It brings Maori customs to Chicago.

Of all the notable exhibits in the museum, a trip to Africa is a delight. Several cultures and the different environments of the continent come into play. Life in Cameroon, Senegal, and Rwanda are included. Highlights are a goatskin tent, a celebration in Dakar, Senegal, and many artifacts representing the traditions and cultures of Africa.

In short, leave the passport at home, but be sure to journey across the world at The Field.

If you go

What: Pawnee Lodge exhibit

Where: The Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Christmas

Basic cost: $15 for adults, $10 for ages 3 to 11, and $12 for seniors 65 and older and students with valid identification. Various passes are available. Tickets can be purchased online.

Information: Visit or call 312-922-9410

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