The Art of the Bicycle
Now that Chicago is finally seeing some spring weather, we're
bringing out our bikes for long rides along the lakeshore and
through our favorite parks.
But do you ever really think about your bicycle? What about the
art and science behind each different model?
Museum of Science and Industry hopes their new permanent
The Art of the Bicycle, will spark family conversations about
just that. Exhibit curator Margaret Schlesinger said she wants
families who visit the exhibit to be able to identify with
different bicycles featured.
"We feel that a bicycle represents part of who you are, so you
identify yourself with some of these additions, colors and styles
to this personal machine," Schlesinger said.
"It's really about featuring each individual bicycle as a unique
machine ... having the visitor look at them as individual pieces
and start to look at the details of its uniqueness."
The exhibit includes nine rare bicycles from the museum's
collection, along with 14 cutting-edge bicycles currently on the
market, including one made out of cardboard.
Schlesinger said that with the vintage bicycles, she hopes
families will start to understand bicycles' place in history and
how families fit into that history as well.
"I want guests to come and have that conversation to sort of try
to identify being able to operate these things. 'Can you imagine
taking a spiller on this one? How would you pick it back up and how
do you get back on it? How would my feet work with this?' So they
begin to become part of the story which is exactly what we want
with this," Schlesinger said.
The new exhibit is another effort on the part of the museum to
show kids how science can be hidden in their everyday lives.
"Science is everywhere, and who knew! It's in the bicycle,"
One feature of the exhibit that really stands out as a
conversation piece for families is a display of a couple dozen
different bike seats from over the decades.
"Folks can take a look at it and show their children, in my
case, the banana seat that I loved as a child... You don't have to
love bikes to see this is a fun display," Schlesinger said.
Although bike rides nowhave become a staple of family spring
activities, the exhibit explains how the first wooden bicycles were
meant for only a certain group of people.
"It wasn't meant to be ridden. It was meant to be pushed. It was
meant to be enjoyed by a very small percentage of the population.
Mainly men and mainly people of a particular wealth," Schlesinger
The part of the exhibit featuring bicycles currently on the
market truly is a showcase for today's talent in the science,
architecture and art worlds. The new bikes span everything from a
fully-functioning cardboard bicycle prototype to professional-grade
bicycles that would be used in the Olympics or the Tour de
Kathleen McCarthy, the museum's director of collections, said
this variety represents the current state of the cycling world.
"As guests will see in our exhibit, there is now a bicycle means
to fit almost every need, terrain or riding style" said
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
See more of Alaina's stories here.
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