If you walk the length of Navy Pier in Chicago, inside rather than outdoors, you will almost certainly pass through one of the most interesting collections of stained glass windows that you are ever likely to see.
The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is the first museum dedicated exclusively to such artwork. There are 150 windows on display in an 800ft-long series of galleries. Here are just a few of my favorites.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, John Lafarge, Ed Paschke and Roger Brown are among the artists whose work can be seen at the Museum.
Pieces dating from the 1880’s all the way up to modern-day works of art are on display, with windows from such places as the old Tivoli Theater in Chicago, The Auditorium Building, as well as churches and houses that once stood in the Chicago area and other similar buildings across the country.
Each window is labeled with the name of the designer and fabricator and gives some information about its history. I have stopped to look at these windows so many times on my way to various events, such as the Flower and Garden Show and the Tall Ships Festival, at the Pier, and I’m always in awe of the incredible workmanship that goes into making these wonderful pieces. Still it amazes me how many people hurry past without giving a glance at them, too intent, I suppose, on getting to their destination at the end of the pier (a little bit like life in general.)
If you are in Chicago and have never seen the Smith Museum I urge you to go for a visit. Admission is free and the Museum is open daily during the Pier’s regular operating hours.