Computer History Museum

Still more from our California trip: on our second day, we visited the Computer History Museum.

This is an absolutely awesome museum! I took tons of pictures, and there is no way I will be able to tell about everything I saw. One thing I wanted to mention: I am shocked that such a museum does not have any public transportation access! It’s unbelievable! I am very grateful to my friend who suggested this museum and took us there – I won’t be able to visit it on any of my conference-related trips.

Pre-historic computers:

Introduction of punch cards:

Did you know what was the original purpose of the punch cards?
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A Weekend With My Girls

My girls visited over the weekend, and we had tons of plans. The plans got almost canceled because Nadia started to get sick on Thursday night, and both Anna and Nadia arrived partially sick. Then we didn’t go anywhere on Saturday because Nadia was getting sicker and sicker, and Anna was about to go home right away. 

We finally decided to wait till Sunday morning, and to my surprise, Nadia woke up mostly normal and ready for adventure.

We went to the Field Museum as we originally planned to do on Saturday. This weekend was marked by the opening of the new Native American Galleries. The whole exhibit space was completely re-imaged; both the content and the presentation became more meaningful. There were several activities related to the new exhibit. One was the native storytelling with Karen Ann Hoffman. All I can tell – she was amazing, and I am not going to try to retell the stories. We all sat on the floor and listened for half an hour.

Another great activity was basket weaving. We looked at the demonstration, and later, we could stop by, and get our share of materials and instructions. We came back for the next two strings, and then the last time to finish the project. All of us (except probably Kira) enjoyed this activity a lot – we worked together and ant the end, we had this cute basket!

Finishing touches to our family basket

Once again, we spent almost the whole day in the museum and came home with barely any time left to have leftovers dinner before the girls went home.

Vilnius Museum of Occupation

We had a list of museums we thought we wanted to visit on Saturday (our flight out was at 6-30 PM, so we had most of the day). The Museum of Occupation was something new on the list of Vilnius museums, and I saw that it was very popular. Since this museum was the furthest from our hotel, we decided to start there and see how much time we had left for other museums. 

But that museum impressed us so much that after spending 2.5 hours there, we realized we could not go anywhere else, so we spent the rest of that day walking along the streets of Old Town and talking about what we saw. 

There is no other museum like this in any of the former Soviet Republics, and I think that if such museums were open in all the Russian cities, maybe, maybe… maybe things would look differently today.

The museum is located in a former Lithuanian KGB building, and the KGB internal prison is still preserved in the basement. Exhibits on the first and second floors present the history of Lithuania’s fight for freedom from 1940 to 1991. 

After leaving the museum, Boris said: I am trying to figure out which parts we didn’t know. We knew most of the facts, but in some cases, we were not aware of the magnitude of the events, and in some, we simply never gave it enough thought, which I am now ashamed of. 

I knew about deportations in 1941, right before the start of the war, but I didn’t know that there were multiple waves of deportations after the war. The number of displaced people might not look so big until you think about the total population of Lithuania and realize that it was more than 10% of the total population.

We knew about the Forest Brothers, but I had no idea that they kept fighting until 1953! I didn’t know how well they were organized, how much support did they have in the country, and I didn’t know about their multiple unsuccessful attempts to get some support from the West. 

Knowing these facts, there is no wonder to see such overwhelming support for Ukraine everywhere in Lithuania! 

The exhibit explains how “a quiet resistance” rolled out after the Forest Brothers were defeated. And once again, it made me think about the time I visited Lithuania when I was a teen and a young adult. I am ashamed of myself now that I think about how we were coming there, the occupants, and how we were oblivious that we were seen as occupants. Also, I know many Russians who moved to Lithuania after the war and after the mass deportations, and they were completely ignorant about their role in the occupation. 

The part of the museum that talks about the labor camps was somewhat less impressive because I knew a lot about them. But the KGB prison left a completely grave impression, even though, theoretically, we knew how the suspects and the prisoners were treated. 

And one of the most impressive parts of the exhibit was the room where they presented the complete organizational chart of the Lithuanian KGB organization, with names and photographs! That’s where I thought – we should have had this for each KGB organization on the territory of the former Soviet Union! Then, maybe… 

I am not sure whether the pictures can add much, but I tried to make them informative. As for the prison, the most horrifying thing is that it is real, and not only real but also very recent.

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Vilnius Toy Museum

OMG, what a wonderful museum! It was just a block away from our hotel, but we didn’t notice it first because the entrance is hidden behind the heavy gates, and you need to press a buzzer, and they actually ask who are you and whether you really want to enter!

One museum with hand sanitizer everywhere :). Some old toys are behind the glass, but there are copies available for play, and you can touch and try pretty much everything. There were so many families, and kids were having the time of their lives!

And I want to mention, that Boris liked playing with lots of these toys 🙂

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Sinebrychoff Art Museum

On Tuesday, I met with my friend Natasha, and she took me to the Sinebrychoff’s Art Museum.

As the museum site states, the private art collection gathered by Fanny and Paul Sinebyshoff was bequeathed to the Finnish state in 1921. All I can say is that the collection is really impressive; many of the items are real masterpieces. There are some Early Renaissance and Medieval Italian paintings, Dutch and Flemish art, Russian Icons as old as the 14th century, and many other art pieces. I wish there would be more information available in English and more information in general. Many artworks do not have an artist’s name, the origin, or both, or do not have the art school specified. For example, a 15th-century Russian icon can come from different parts of Russia, or an “anonymous artist” of the 18th century could come from different countries, and I would love to know about that :).

Here are some pictures I took in the museum:

We were wondering what this is and what it could be used for. Does anybody know?
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The Art Institute

Saturday marked a return of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but it also marked a sharp temperature drop (down to 11F in the morning). Because of that (actually, because of both), I decided against any outings on that day. I attempted to go to escort (the last shift), but it turned out that we were not even needed, and I could leave an hour later.

My fellow escorts asked me how did I get there. I replied – “interestingly,” and they immediately suggested giving me a ride to any CTA station further North. For those who haven’t been on the CTA on St. Patrick’s Day – good for you! For those who took CTA on that day previously – it was twice worse than you ever saw!

But to compensate for it – Sunday was beautiful, quiet, and the weather was gorgeous! I thought I needed to do something together with mom, because then I will be gone for ten days, so I suggested we go to the Art Institute during the member’s hour. And it turned out to be a very nice outing. I was finally able to see the Egyptian Exhibit without the crowd.

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Cultural Events

I was waiting for this culturally rich March with such an anticipation – and now she war overshadowed everything. But ones again, I decided it to be my form of resistance. What I did for the past two days – I lived a normal life as much as possible because that’s my protest against fears. Two personal things made me worry and upset more than in the previous days. I know that all my worries are nothing compared to people whose lives are in danger, but I have to admit that I gave in at some point. I still went to the event in the Field Museum and took mom and Igor. 

We always try to attend the Field Museum event because this museum does not have after-hours, and it is located further from the Loop than the Art Institute, so there are fewer chances to visit it otherwise. 

 The event was related to the new exhibit called Jurassic Ocean: The Monsters of The Deep, and it shows what was happening in the ocean when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. 

Some dinosaurs also lived in the water, but mostly the ocean was inhabited by giant fish and reptiles, and this exhibition presents these creatures and their differences and similarities with the modern ones.

And Friday was the day of the opening of the European Union Film Festival. It was cut in the middle in 2020 and didn’t happen last year. Same as I wanted to be in a part of the live event in the Field Museum to support its efforts to get back to life and education, I wanted to support CEUFF. 

The hosting country is France this year, but unfortunately, there was no reception :). Still, it was great to be in the theater packed with movie lovers and the representatives of the EU in Chicago and to listen to the opening remarks of the French General Consular in Chicago. 

The opening movie was a new screen adaptation of Balzak’s “Lost Illusions” – possibly too grim in the present political situation, but most definitely an outstanding cinema production! 

Cultural Activities

The Illinois indoor mask mandate will expire on February 28, and it looks like the city of Chicago will follow suit. Masks will still be required in the hospitals and such, in schools (if the legal battles will get to some resolution), and on public transport (thank goodness!!!)

I will monitor the situation, and I guess I will act as I feel comfortable. What makes me really happy is that pretty much all festivals and celebrations are returning. I still need to copy the schedule to my calendar, but I already know that summer will be busy in a good way!

That being said, there were a lot of cultural activities in the past two weeks, as much as I could fit with the amount of work I had!

I finally went to see a movie in the Siskel center with Igor (they are running so many interesting programs, and I can’t find time for any!) We went to see a 1971 movie from the “Bad Romance” series “The new leaf.’ Nothing special, but it was very entertaining. 

Then, there was a Hairspray production in the CIBC Theater. I tried to do a Broadway in Chicago subscription this year, and I am still unsure whether I like it and will do it in the future, but I am attending several performances this season. 

Official photo
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Estonian Maritime Museum

I just realized that I forgot to blog about one more museum in Tallinn – the Estonian Maritime Museum. The museum is relatively new, and its centerpiece is an old cog – a Medieval merchant ship. 

It was built at the end of the 13th century, and it sailed for quite a long time until it sank in the mid-14th century. The ship was discovered and lifted from the sea in 2015. Now, the cog, along with hundreds of artifacts discovered on the wreck, occupy the museum’s first floor.

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