New Field Museum exhibit transports visitors to prehistoric caves

Chicago families can now experience prehistoric cave paintings without having to go underground.

Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux opened at the Field Museum this week, transporting exhibit visitors to southwest France, where the paintings were discovered in 1940.

The highlight of the exhibit is a life-size replica of part of the cave that will make visitors forget they began their journey in Chicago. Not only does the cave feature replicas of the discovered paintings, an incredibly life-like stone-age family seems to be seeking shelter inside.

For visitors who want to see more of the cave, the exhibit also has a virtual tour of the Lascaux cave that puts the replica into perspective.

The walk-through cave is the only part of the exhibit where you might have to remind the kids to keep their hands to themselves. Before and after the cave walkthrough there are plenty of interactive experiences for families. Using a large touch screen, kids can try their hand at recreating a cave painting (it’s harder than it sounds), take a scan of a cave wall, and learn more about prehistoric times. Even smaller hands can play along in the exhibit with blocks, sliders and other interactive elements.

Stone-age artifacts from the museum’s collections are featured in the exhibit as well. Paired with video on how Paleolithic people lived, visitors can get a full understanding of what it would have been like on earth when the paintings were first created.

Fourth-graders from Jungman Elementary School in Chicago were among the first to experience Scenes from the Stone Age on Tuesday. One of the students, Francisco Pantoja, 10, said the class really enjoyed the exhibit.

“I like it that we don’t have to go to France but France came to us. The replicas made it like the real thing came to you,” Pantoja said.

Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux is open at the Field Museum through Sept. 8. Admission to the exhibit is included in both the Discovery and All-Access passes to the museum.

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