Been to the Field Museum of Natural History a couple of times in the past few weeks and was able to see two excellent exhibits. One, in a small, new gallery, showcases manuscripts and other texts from the Field's collection, and includes a letter with Darwin's signature, a journal in John James Audubon's hand, and lots of other cool stuff.
The other is part of the vaunted 2007 Chicago Map Festival, and is full of really interesting objects, such as a map of ocean swells made of sticks, used by native Marshall Islanders; the London tube map (remarkable for its eschewal of accurate scale and angle in favor of navigational clarity); early maps of "the 4th part of the world" (North and South America; called fourth after Europe, Africa, and Asia), and narrative offering useful distinctions such as navigational v. network maps.
We plan to return to see the map exhibit again this weekend, as we didn't spend as much time there as we'd have liked; perhaps we'll also get a chance to see the Darwin exhibit.
We have such great museums. Was sad to realize I missed the Richard Misrach show (ended this weekend). No excuse for that.