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This year's upcoming museum exhibits

Living lights and an 80th birthday: Our museum guide to what's new in 2013

Steve Johnson

Tribune reporter

5:29 PM EST, January 2, 2013

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Glowing fish, giant dinosaurs, plasticized animals and more. That's not a description of the toy aisles at Target, or at least it's not only that. It also spotlights what's coming up in the new year at the area's family museums and zoos. Here are some of the events we are anticipating in 2013:

"Animal Inside Out": This production from the Body Worlds folks will show more than 100 animals preserved via Plastination, just like the hugely fascinating, vaguely creepy humans in previous Body Worlds shows. Says the Museum of Science and Industry: "Highlights of 'Animal Inside Out' include peering up at a giraffe, witnessing a shark outlined entirely in its dense network of blood vessels and peeking at a rabbit's brain." Just guessing, but it'll probably be easier to get a ticket before lunchtime. March 14 to Sept. 2 at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive; 773-684-1414 or msichicago.org

"Opening the Vaults: World's Fair": This one starts later in the year, but it is likely to be really good, as once again the Field Museum digs into its vast collection to pull out some plums. This show will feature items related to one of the most storied events in Chicago history, the Columbian Exposition of 1893. That's the one that brought us the Ferris wheel, the Museum of Science and Industry building and, as readers well know, the book "Devil in the White City." Oct. 25 to May 4, 2014, at the Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive; 312-992-9410 or fieldmuseum.org

"The Trial of Socrates": It's a $100 ticket, but legal heavy hitters and some very big ideas will be in play as Greektown's National Hellenic Museum retries "the biggest freedom of speech case of all times." The prosecution includes Patrick Fitzgerald, the defense includes Dan Webb and the presiding judge is Richard Posner. It's moot court taken to an extreme. Jan. 31 at the National Hellenic Museum, 333 S. Halsted St.; 312-655-1234 or nationalhellenicmuseum.org

"80 at 80": As part of events marking its 80th anniversary June 19, the Museum of Science and Industry will go into its own treasure chests to display fourscore rarely shown artifacts. Visitors to the vast, aggressively overstuffed science temple in Hyde Park might find it hard to believe that there is more to display, but the museum assures us this is the case. And chances are it's going to be stuff the curators have been dying to put before the public for years. Opening in June at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive; 773-684-1414 or msichicago.org

"Dinosaurs Alive!": Two dozen life-size animatronic dinosaurs will be on display as the popular exhibit returns to the Brookfield Zoo. Some of them haven't been shown in Brookfield before, the zoo says. A highlight: The 20-foot-by-50-foot Shantungosaurus, believed to be the largest dinosaur to walk on two legs. April 6 to Oct. 27 at the Brookfield Zoo, 8400 31st St., Brookfield; 708-688-8000 or czs.org

New plans for the Smart Home: After it closes Jan. 6, ending its fifth and final year as a green home design showcase, the small, sleek house in the garden on the east side of the Museum of Science and Industry will take on a new, yet-to-be-determined role. Our vote: An in-town crash pad for journalists.

"Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence": An exploration of animals that glow, from fireflies to deep-ocean fishes. The exhibit will include some live animals, but there is no advance word on what it will have to say about Rudolph. Among the sections are "A Summer's Night," showcasing a North American meadow; "A Mysterious Cave," highlighting the glowworms of a New Zealand cave system; and "A Sparkling Sea," introducing "the brilliant light displays of Mosquito Bay on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico, where high concentrations of microscopic dinoflagellates create a glowing halo around anything that moves through the water." That's right: dinoflagellates. March 7 to Sept. 8 at the Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive; 312-992-9410 or fieldmuseum.org

"Food: The Nature of Eating": Developed by the Notebaert Nature Museum, this show will aim to "explore how food connects us to the natural world and to each other." March 22 to Sept. 8 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive; 773-755-5100 or naturemuseum.org

"Ebony Fashion Fair": The Chicago History Museum's largest fashion exhibition yet will feature clothes by the likes of Yves St. Laurent and Oscar de la Renta as it explores the cultural legacy of the influential traveling runway show guided by the late and very stylish Eunice Johnson of Chicago's Johnson Publishing Co. March 16 through Jan. 4, 2014, at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.; 312-642-4600 or chicagohistory.org

 

sajohnson@tribune.com

Twitter@StevenKJohnson