Field Museum MR. CARL AKELEY’S MOVIE CAMERA Exhibit Review- A Tranquil Space Inspires

Upon entering the Field Museum we are greeted by Maximo and two taxidermied fighting elephants in Stanley Field Hall. It’s a cavernous space and echoes every little sound made there. We have to adjust to the volume of it. Every hard soled footstep, cough, or voice echoes with no respite. There is no way to avoid being surrounded by this din of noise. It is so constant that we don’t even object to it. How can we in the presence of such majestic figures?.

The northeast corner of Stanley Field Hall is the loudest, as it is where The Field Bistro is located. Areas are sections off making sure that there is organization to obtain food or coffee, and the chairs and tables have guests sitting and talking. All the while that echo-filled din continues to vibrate in the background. The stairs are our escape from the bistro to the upper level where we are greeted with a small door that reads -- Gallery Open - Please Come In.

Field Museum Brooker Gallery is a Quiet Space

This is Brooker Gallery. Through March this gallery holds a most intriguing exhibition, Mr. Carl Akeley’s Camera. We enter the gallery and we cannot help but notice it is quiet. The din is gone replaced by a very calm piano piece. We can see a video playing as we look through a glass case which holds the show’s namesake. But no matter how interesting the camera may be it is the video, and the two welcoming leather chairs facing it, that draw us in to spend a little time appreciating.

The gallery holds only a few things, and sitting in one of the two chairs we can look around and soak it in. Stone’s Sheep to our right is an impressive display of taxidermy with this animal standing on three legs in a very active posture. This is here because not only did this man, Carl Akeley, invent a camera, he was first, and foremost, a taxidermist. Akeley actually also taxidermied the two fighting elephants in Stanley Field Hall.


There is also a case in front of us holding two small bronze sculptures. Why? Because Carl made those as well.

We sit and watch this film go by. It is not a very long loop, and in looking around, we only get more comfortable in the space. We get so comfortable we finally approach the camera. We saw it being used in the film and take a step back to admire all the work that Carl Akeley was doing. Taxidermy, sculpture, photography— and then he invented this camera which we learn was created for shooting action outdoors. By adding a handle and utilizing a magazine which held the film it was very versatile. This camera was adopted by the military during WWI, and later by Hollywood.  

It is the state we are in while in this gallery that allows us to put together these pieces. We are lured into a space of being able to connect these dots. It is a far cry from Stanley Field Hall which we can look down to from the balcony right outside the door. We will however stay here one more minute, taking it all in, the camera and its film in the background. The small sculptures and of course the two chairs brought us a bit of respite during our Field trip.


Nothing is forced within this show. In this writer's opinion the show is strategic, and laid out in order to get across the idea that, when we are quiet, we become more inquisitive. More, this exhibit summons us to further reflect that when we are being inquisitive, and having space to explore ourselves in relation to our surroundings, will open up to  new connections and possibilities. 


Through March, 2019


Field Museum

 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive



$24 general admission

For  tickets or more information call 312-922-9410 or visit the Field Museum website 

All slider photos by MartinJon Garcia; All other photos courtesy of The Field Museum.

MartinJon is an artist, coach and healer who is passionate about helping others grow. With a core belief that everything we see and experience is a reflection of ourselves MartinJon  presents a unique approach to seeing the world and our lives. Learn more about MartinJon and all the facets of his work at his blog or connect on Instagram @MartinJon where you can connect with him directly.

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