Yesterday we were both pretty weary, but wanted to go to the Art Institute of Chicago – the one tourist site that we both definitely wanted to hit (at one point, I was maintaining that it was the only site I was going to hit). So we rested in the morning, and headed out to the museum in the afternoon.

But first, we had lunch at CafeLux again. Nothing really noteworthy to mention here, except that after lunch the sweet, attentive waiter brought me my credit card receipt and said, very earnestly, “Thank you, Ms. Delawater.”

And so, on to the Art Institute. Prior to our trip, we had spent an evening reverse engineering the Art Institute’s reciprocal membership – we started with a list of all the museums with whom the Art Institute has reciprocal privileges, and then looked at all the museums with which those museums have reciprocal privileges, looking for the best deal. We hoped to find something that would get us in to the Art Institute and the Portland and Seattle museums.

We ultimately chose The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which also gets us in to the Art Institute, The Met and some others in NY, the DeYoung in SF, a bunch of museums in Sacramento, and a bunch of museums around the Pacific NW (but, alas, not Portland or Seattle). It is all very exciting – I’m thinking we should take a train trip to Minnesota next summer to visit our museum – not to mention all the trips to NY and SF I think this should justify.

At first, a very taciturn man at the Art Institute said we couldn’t get in with our Walker Art Center cards. I had just pulled out my iPhone to show him where on his website it said we could, when he looked at another page in his little book and said “Oh, here it is” and then (grudgingly, it seemed to me) gave us our tickets.

Lis wanted to go first to the Thorne Miniature Rooms – she had read about them online and was fascinated by them. And, indeed, they were pretty amazing. After a while, however, I had had my fill of tiny furniture, and decided to explore the other collections (I think Lis could have stayed in the Miniature Rooms collection all day).

I went to the second floor and looked at the Impressionists (lots of Renoir and Monet) and the early Europeans (fair amount of El Greco). I had a great time at first, but then ran out of gas and was mostly wandering aimlessly. It was still pleasant, but I didn’t do the really immersing myself in the works that I like to do when I’ve got more in me.

Met up with Lis about 20 minutes before the museum closed at 5 – we went and looked at Chagall’s America Windows and the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, then wandered the gift shop a bit before they tossed us out.

We’d both like to go back and explore a little more, particularly the Modern Wing, plus there are a couple paintings we didn’t see that we’d like to (Hopper’s Nighthawks and Van Gogh’s The Bedroom).

We had an indifferent dinner of burgers and fries in a hole-in-the-wall burger place across the street from the Museum, primarily because my out-of-gas-ness made it impossible for me to participate in looking around for something better. Then we headed back to the hotel.

I will mention here that we went to and from the museum by bus, using the 3 day bus passes we had purchased at Jewel-Osco for $14 each. We love using mass transit when visiting big cities (makes us feel less like tourists and more like part of the city), and The James is particulary well-situated for this – just a couple blocks from a bus stop that will get us quickly to the Art Insitute, Millenium and Grant Parks, The Aquarium, Planetarium and Field Natural History Museum, etc, etc

Once back at the hotel, we fired up the projector in the Media Room and watched How Do You Know with Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd (look closely to see Lis (Vanna) in the lower left corner of the picture). It was super great, partly because the movie was much better than I had been expecting (it was really quite good), and partly because watching a movie in the Media Room is AWESOME!!! We are going to watch another movie tonight, and even toyed briefly with the idea of “How can we do one of these at home??”