Chicago’s National Hellenic Museum in Greektown is billed as “ the first and only major museum in the country dedicated to the Greek journey, from ancient times to the modern Greek American experience.”
So, of course, I had to take my grandson as he had just finished Rick Riordon’s novels and knows more about Greek mythology than I do. From Chicago’s Western ‘burgs, the best way to get to Greektown is to drive to the Forest Park el station, park for $3 a day, take the el to UIC/Halsted and walk one block north. We walked one block past the museum to fuel up on gyros. Good food, but the table was dirty, so I’m not mentioning the restaurant. After wiping off the table, we discussed Greek sculpture and Grecian urns over our authentic tasting gyros.
I should have saved my breath and simply booked a trip to Greece. The museum would have been funny if we had not wasted a half day on our Grecian Journey. After paying $10 for me and $8 for the 11-year-old, I was in that exciting discovery mode — and to share it with my grandson? My heart beat faster.
I should have saved my cardio workout for the gym.
Here’s what’s to see at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago: colorful posters about the history of the Olympics; colorful posters about Greek food; and restored photographs from 1880 to 1950 of Greeks in America. I could have sworn I’d seen those Ellis Island photos before. Often. In every exhibit about immigrants and on History Channel.
As for actual artifacts, we viewed a wedding dress circa 1900 and wrestling shorts circa 1930. No Grecian urns. No ancient statues. I asked an attendant if there were any ancient Greek statues in Greektown. He thought the closest was at the Art Institute.
“Should we take a cab, Grandma,” asked my grandson.
I uttered an age-appropriate negative.
On our way back to the el stop, we visited a Greek bakery where I was pleased to find homemade yogurt and honey imported from Greece. Hardly worth a half day and the expense of getting there, but my mood lifted. The day would not be wasted. Forest Park is close to Oak Park, home to the best Greek restaurant I have found in Chicagoland.
In Oak Park, we drove up and down Lake Street looking for the restaurant and checking my iPhone to verify address. It was not only closed, it was abandoned. Not to worry. Petersen’s Ice Cream Parlor in Oak Park never disappoints. Two scoops in a waffle cone redeemed our day.