The Art Institute and “World of Wheels”-The same, only different

I visited two places recently that shouldn’t have had equal impact on me.  After all, neither location makes sense when mentioned in the same breath as the other.

Two weeks ago, I visited the Art Institute during their budget-friendly “Free February.”  When it comes to art, I’ll not-so-proudly admit that I know more about artists who’ve done cover art for the Fantastic Four than I do those who are internationally known for their Impressionist works.  Because of that, I feel like a poseur the second I come within visual range of the Art Institute’s figurehead lions.  

Casting insecurity aside, I breezed through the museum on a lunch break, making mental notes of aged, impressive works previously unknown to me.  What struck me most about the paintings and sculptures I saw had nothing to do with the art behind them; rather, I was impressed that they existed at all.  The fact that, on my lunch break, I was able to glimpse legendary pieces which had managed to jump through the centuries left me awestruck.  That feeling of awe had never hit me when I was a young school-attending snot being dragged along on museum field trips.Adulthood’s a funny thing; I now felt grateful that there are people out there who care enough to preserve our planet’s cultural past.
Earlier today, I was at the World of Wheels convention in Rosemont, which unexpectedly elicited the same emotions I felt at the Art Institute.There, among the out of town attendees in satin jackets arguing about lube, were meticulously preserved and enhanced visions from our distant past and Henry Ford’s near future.  As I walked throughout the(never-ending) hall, I saw cars from the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, looking as though they’d just rolled “off the lot” only minutes before pulling in to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. 
At the World of Wheels, I had access to a history otherwise available tome only in books and on the web.  With the passion of museum curators,WoW’s vendors and attendees work to pickle and preserve automobiles so they can be treasured for decades beyond their natural street life. Just as the Art Institute put me in front of a Van Gogh, World of Wheels let me stand next to a ’53 Bel Air.  Wildly different, sure.  But the same,too, you know?
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