Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

Blue Star Voices

The Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Photo by Stephanie Himel-Nelson

I love Blue Star Museums! This is the third year of the program, but I’m still constantly amazed at the generosity of museums across this county.  Last week, that message hit home again when I had the chance to attend a Blue Star Museums event at the Art Institute of Chicago.

As we headed out on the tour, I watched military families and service members rapt with attention as we saw some incredible art, real icons of Americana. First up was Chagall’s America Windows. I’d seen it on TV and in photos---I mean who can forget the museum visit in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?---but to stand in front of them and really feel the impact was unforgettable.

Military families and sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes and military family members view Marc Chagall’s America Windows. Photo by Stephanie Himel-Nelson

Next we stopped to see Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, and a Roy Lichtenstein retrospective. I was so thrilled to see young sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes enthralled at seeing these famous pieces of Americana.

Military family members view Nighthawks by Edward Hopper at the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Stephanie Himel-Nelson

I wasn’t able to bring my own military kids out to Chicago for the event, but I was thrilled to see that my kids’ reaction to my photos of the museum and the art was much the same as all of those young Navy service members. They were so excited to see American Gothic pop up in my photos, exclaiming, “I’ve seen that before!” The boys asked me so many questions about America Windows, Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, and Roy Lichtenstein that we ended up searching the internet for several hours and reading about pop art and the Great Depression. Just the photos from my trip to this iconic museum were the sparks for many great conversations that I know I’ll be having with my children for weeks to come. If they’d actually been there in person, I know it would have blown their little minds!

Garrett Hoppin, a military child, captures a moments from the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo by Stephanie Himel-Nelson

This summer, I know my family be visiting as many Blue Star Museums as we can. Thank you to the Art Institute of Chicago for an amazing day and thank you to all of the participating Blue Star Museums for such a wonderful gift.

Himel-Nelson lives in Virginia with her husband and two sons.


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