To be clear, this body of water is not an inlet from Lake Michigan but a lagoon they built on campus a while back. You can make out Lake Michigan right behind the trees. But this lagoon plays a fun part in family history.
Back when I was going to NU in the School of Speech (now Communications), I took a Communication Studies course, and for reasons I don't remember, one day the professor took the whole class down to the lagoon to practice projection. (It wasn't a performance class, so I really don't recall at this point why we were doing this, perhaps to expand our awareness of the use of the voice or...oh, I don't know.) But half the class stood on one side of the lagoon and the rest on the other shore. And for decades after, my father who still be bemused by this and said, "So, just to be clear, I was paying tuition so that you could learn to yell across a lake..." For what it's worth, I thought it was sort of silly at the time, too, though I enjoyed the rest of the class. But that didn't matter. It was always "That class where you yelled across the lake."
But hey, as long as we're down by the waterfront, I thought I might was well also include of my buddies who joined me for part of the walk.
Over the past few years, as I mentioned, I take this walk through the Northwestern campus. And each time, there's one place I always make sure to stop at -- there is a museum on campus, and I always want to see it. I don't mean I "always want to see it again", I mean quite literally...I always want to see it. At least once. But every single time I've been on campus, the Block Museum has been closed. Either that was the one day it wasn't open, or they were closed for lunch, or they were closed for renovation, or they were closed to put in a new exhibition. Whatever the reason, it's always been closed. Always. So, I've never seen it, and it looks very nice, and has a good reputation for a small museum on a college campus.
But this year ...are you ready? -- it was OPEN!!! O joy! I told the receptionist how thrilled I was to finally get in, and explained why. She laughed and said, "Yes, we do seem to close a lot" -- but really, she was just being polite. They don't close that often, just often enough when I'm there.
Alas, they only had one exhibit, but when I rolled my eyes at my timing again, she said, "Oh, no, it's a good one." And it was. "Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa." It look at the Trans-Saharan trade culture from the days of antiquity, how the gold and even salt were such major factors in the area, and how historians and archaeologists have been able to put the past in perspective, often from only fragments.
It wasn't a deeply-extensive exhibit, but respectably comprehensive, and very well presented, along with interesting video interviews of archaeologists talking about the area and this exhibit. It will be traveling to the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto this Fall -- and to any folks reading this in Washington, D.C. (and yes, this means you Nell Minow, who I know not only lives in the area, but even went to the beloved NU briefly, and we had a class together -- but she transferred to be with her longtime boyfriend who is now her longtime husband. But I digress...), the exhibit will be there in the Spring of 2020 at the National Museum of African Art which a part of the Smithsonian Institution.
The exhibit got a lot of funding, but notably some came from the Buffett Institute for Global Studies. Yes, it's that Buffet, but only in being the same family. Not Warren Buffet, but his sister Rebecca Buffett Elliott who went to Northwestern and about two years ago gave the university a massive donation for that Global Studies institute. And when I say "massive," that's not hyperbole. It was $101 mlilion. Mainly, I love the extra "$1 million" so that it wasn't just a flat, dull $100 million...
Anyway, I finally made it to the Block Museum on the Northwestern Campus. All is well...