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The Secret Lives of Objects
Jan 4
Museums, Galleries & Exhibitions

The Secret Lives of Objects


What spark led to the deadliest fire in Chicago history? How did a pair of eyeglasses crack the case of one of the city’s most notorious murders? And why did only one bamboo cane survive unscathed after a performance with Charlie Chaplin?

The Chicago History Museum proudly announces a new exhibition featuring objects extraordinary and unfamiliar that have emerged from the Museum’s protected vaults to tell their tales and shine a light on their mysterious pasts.

Of the millions of artifacts and documents collected by the Museum, just a few more than 40 have been carefully selected for this exhibition. Whether they are artistic works, key evidence from crime scenes, or everyday objects, one thing all the items in The Secret Lives of Objects have in common is that they serve as touchstones of Chicago’s rich history; tangible evidence of our glorious, surprising, dangerous and infamous past.

Noteworthy Objects

  • Nathan F. Leopold Jr.’s eyeglasses, which implicated him and Richard Loeb in the murder of Bobby Franks
  • The electric typewriter used by the syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers
  • The lamp that started the Iroquois Theatre fire in 1903, resulting in the loss of more than 600 lives
  • Booth One from the Pump Room at The Ambassador East Hotel
  • The table from Appomattox Court House, Virginia on which General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Civil War


Photos courtesy of Chicago History Museum


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