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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Friday field trip: but wait! there's more!

On Friday my husband and I visited three museums in Elmhurst. The trip provided the material for my column in the July 21 issue of the Zion-Benton News. 

“It chops, it slices, it dices!”   

How can you forget that catchy line from the TV’s first infomercials in the 1960s and 70s?   Pitchman extraordinaire Ron Popeil used the airwaves to sell millions of Veg-o-Matics, Pocket Fishermen, and Mr. Microphones. 

“But Wait … There’s More!” opened at the Elmhurst History Museum last month and continues through September 18.   The exhibit tells the story of the Popeil family – beginning as peddlers in Asbury Park, NJ; moving to Chicago to operate their own manufacturing plant; and inventing everything from the Giant Auto-Grate to the Slice-a-Way to the iconic Chop-o-Matic.  Did you know that  Popeil invented a trash compactor? Put the trash in the device, affix the lid, and sit on it.   One wall of the exhibit is devoted to LP record album covers of  “greatest hits” anthologies.  

My husband and I drove to Elmhurst last week in part to see the Popeil exhibit.  We went upstairs in the history museum to see the permanent exhibit, “By All Accounts.” It is an interactive journey through Elmhurst’s history, from the native Americans to the first European settlement in the 1830’s. (Like Zion-Benton, York Township’s early farmers were Yankees and Germans who bought land for $1.25 per acre.) Photos, video interviews, and hundreds of artifacts document the past 175 years.

Elmhurst boasts two other not-to-miss museums which we enjoyed on our day trip.

The  nucleus of the Elmhurst Art Museum is a house designed by modernist architect Mies Van der Rohe. Wings have been added to accommodate a variety of exhibits.  The featured exhibit this summer is Playboy Architecture, 1953-1979. It explores the role of modern architecture (interiors, furniture, products) that made up the Playboy image of suave, sophisticated mid-century masculinity.  (The same time period but a social world away from Popeil gadgets!)  Trivia tidbit:  Hugh Hefner’s famous round bed had a spread made out of Tasmanian opossum pelts.
The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is a true gem.  Founder Joseph Lizzadro was a lapidary hobbyist who began collecting jade carvings in the 1930’s.  The pieces on exhibit are exquisite. In addition to Asian jade there are European cameos, an array of snuff bottles, and dioramas featuring animals made out of carved and polished rocks.  A permanent exhibit on the lower level provides the geological background with maps showing the sources of different minerals and rocks around the world.

Guan Yin (goddess of mercy) 

Elmhurst is just 55 miles from Zion.  It’s close to home and worth the visit!

For more information:  The Lizzadro Museum participates in the Museum Pass program. Check out a pass at the Zion-Benton Public Library for half off the second ticket when one is purchased.  Free admission to all on Fridays.  Free admission (donations welcome).

Breakfast: all the "food" is rocks/minerals


  1. What fun exhibits! I would especially love to see the lapidary museum.

  2. The jade pieces are amazing. But wait, there's more was used by the quilt teacher this weekend. And it was obvious everyone got the reference. How interesting to get more of the history behind these people.


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