Land and Sea Dept. partnered with the Field Museum and Johalla Projects to create the pop-up bar experience, The Backroom at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel (12 S. Michigan Ave.). It celebrates the upcoming Museum exhibition, Specimens: Unlocking the Secrets of Life. The opening party of The Backroom was Feb. 25, and special events will be hosted every weekend until March 25.
Logan Square residents may be familiar with Land and Sea Dept. already, as both the restaurant group and masterminds behind Lost Lake (3154 W. Diversey Ave.), Longman and Eagle (2657 N. Kedzie Ave.) and Parson’s Chicken and Fish (2952 W. Armitage Ave.). LSD beverage director, Paul McGee, created a negroni and amaro mule specifically for The Backroom that guests can enjoy while talking to researchers from the Field Museum and checking out specimens from the zoological, geological and botanical collections. It is the first time that these specimens from these collections have left the Museum. The Backroom’s displaying of them was designed by Johalla Projects, an art collective based out of the West Town neighborhood.
The museum already had a pre-existing relationship with LSD from prior events. Noah Cruickshank, adult engagement manager at the Field Museum, took advantage of this connection. A pop-up bar was a great opportunity to display this collection while reaching a new audience.
Field Museum scientists are equally enthusiastic about bringing the collections outside the museum doors. Jim Holstein, collection manager for Meteorites and Physical Geology at the Field Museum, will be present for Glowing Rocks on March 4. He hopes that guests are just as excited about the event.
“I am very accustomed to being around the museum’s collection on a daily basis, and to see it in this historic space is reminiscent of 19th-century cabinets of curiosity. Seeing the collecting in this space, I feel the connection to the Field Museum’s past, but also love the science that we are doing today,” Holstein said. “I also love to see visitors interact with the collection by exploring the cabinets and opening the drawers; hopefully they walk away and appreciate — if not love — natural history collections the way I do.”
Holstein’s love of geology can be traced to the Logan Square neighborhood, where he grew up.
“I can trace my love of rocks and minerals to my walks to Brentano Elementary on Diversey Avenue,” he reminisced. “I would pick up any shiny object and try to identify it. Granted this is the city, and it was mostly just asphalt and concrete, but my imagination would run wild. My mother hated doing my laundry because my pockets would be full of junk that I would pick up,” he said. “Now I am able to work with the real thing.”
Along with Glowing Rocks, guests will be able to participate in Dig Your Down Dinosaur, Plant Pressing, Mushroom Show and Tell and Taxidermy Demonstration.
A list of the featured collections and the experts behind them is available at the Chicago Athletic events site. Presentations will be followed by late-night programming like karaoke, DJs or trivia. The Backroom will be open on Fridays and Saturday from 5 p.m.-midnight until March 25.