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Dark side of history: Celebrating Halloween at the museums

Chicago Tribune
Chilling at the museums: Here are 10 Halloween tours and events in the Chicago area.

"From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us," goes a traditional Scottish prayer. But at this time of year, a lot of people savor the possibility of a good fright. Several museums and other cultural attractions offer their own bag of Halloween treats, tricks and tours. Advance reservations are highly recommended.

CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM: The history museum always has a nifty array of tours, but they're amping up the fear factor this month. Historian Al Walavich leads tours of Graceland Cemetery, final resting place of many of Chicago's most prominent movers and shakers. (Whether they'll be shaking their bones in daylight is an open question.) And Pamela Bannos, creator of the "Hidden Truths" project about the city's first municipal cemetery (right outside the museum's doors), presents "Garden of the Dead: The History of Lincoln Park's Elusive Graves," with tales of grave robbers and other less savory aspects of the park's early history. Graceland Cemetery tours are 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Oct. 25; 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 26; and 1-3 p.m. Oct. 31. "Gardens of the Dead" tour is 8-10 p.m. Oct. 28. Tickets $40; 312-642-4600 or chicagohistory.org

'DEATH, DISEASE AND BONES: THE LINCOLN PARK WALKING TOUR': If you can't make it to Bannos' tour, or you just can't get enough grisly tales of Chicago's early dead (whose remains still turn up from time to time when there are major digging projects in the park), the Richard H. Driehaus Museum offers its own tour of our first boneyard with Sally Sexton Kalmbach, co-founder of the Chicago History Women's Club. 10 a.m. Saturday and Nov. 1; 4 p.m. Oct. 29; $30 at 312-482-8933 or driehausmuseum.org

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE FOUNDATION CEMETERY TOURS: Though not specifically designed for the season, the Chicago Architecture Foundation regularly offers tours of notable cemeteries, including Graceland, Rosehill and Oak Woods on the South Side, where thousands of Confederate soldiers and prominent African-American civil rights pioneers are buried. Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave.; most cemetery tours are $15 for two hours at 312-922-3432 or architecture.org

'SHADOWS ON THE STREET: HAUNTED TOURS OF HISTORIC PRAIRIE AVENUE': Before they ended up at Graceland Cemetery, many of Chicago's early titans lived on Prairie Avenue. This tour includes stories of the strange death of Marshall Field Jr. (scion of the retail pioneer) and the rattling windows in the mansion of piano manufacturer William W. Kimball. 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Oct. 25 and Oct. 31; $10 at 312-326-1480 or glessnerhouse.org

28th ANNUAL EDGAR ALLAN POE READINGS: If you prefer to take in Prairie Avenue's Halloween ambience from the inside, the Clarke House Museum teams up with Lifeline Theatre for an evening of tales to tremble by from America's master of horror. 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 25; Clarke House Museum, 1827 S. Indiana Ave.; $25 at 312-326-1480 or glessnerhouse.org

'HAUNTING HISTORY': Magician, illusionist and storyteller David Parr, co-creator of the popular Magic Cabaret, brings back this show to the Charles G. Dawes House, which is also now the Evanston History Center. Parr takes visitors on a tour of the 1895 home of Calvin Coolidge's vice president (who also won the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in World War I reparations). Each room serves as the backdrop for a different slice of mysterious folklore, magic — and even a seance. For ages 13+. Oct. 24-31 at the Evanston History Center, 225 Greenwood St. Evanston; $20 at davidparr.com

'SPOOKY SEAS' AT SHEDD AQUARIUM: The Shedd adds a Halloween twist to its regular "Overnight" series, with a DJ, costume party, "animal encounters," and special seasonal-themed activities. Designed for families with kids age 5 and over (those not wishing to stay overnight can still attend the evening activities). 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive; $90 VIP, $75 overnight, $40 "evening only" (ends at 10 p.m.); 312-939-2438 or sheddaquarium.org

'CURSE OF THE BLOOD MOON' AT ADLER PLANETARIUM: If you're kicking yourself for missing that spectacular lunar eclipse earlier this month, the Adler has you covered. This 14-minute multimedia spectacle in the planetarium's Grainger Sky Theater promises a "one time only, terrifying journey," from which "not everyone will make it out." Recommended for ages 12+. Oct. 30, shows every half-hour from 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive; $10 at 312-922-7827 or adlerplanetarium.org

MUMMIES NIGHT AT THE ORIENTAL INSTITUTE: The Oriental Institute's impressive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts forms the backdrop for this evening of educational fun, geared for kids 4 and up. The youngsters can go on a treasure hunt, try on an outfit from "King Tut's closet" and learn about the scientific process behind mummification. 5-8 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Oriental Institute, 1155 E. 58th St.; free, registration recommended at 773-702-9507 or oi.uchicago.edu

'BOO! AT THE ZOO': The Brookfield Zoo offers a series of Halloween events, ranging from "not-so-scary Zoo Chats" on seasonally appropriate "beasties," such as bats, wolves and ravens, to a "haunted hayride," costume parade and pumpkin-carving demonstrations. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 26 at the Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield; $16.95 adults, $11.95 seniors and children 3-11 (some Halloween events require fees in addition to regular admission); czs.org

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