A quick ride through the Art of the Bicycle exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry

Contrasting the old and new came down to this comparison between a 2013 Cervelo and bikes from the 1800s

Contrasting the old and new came down to this comparison between a 2013 Cervelo and bikes from the 1800s

It didn’t take long to whip through the Art of the Bicycle exhibit now appearing at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. The exhibit is not that large, which was rather a disappointment. On the other hand, the corridor dedicated to the Art of the Bicycle made it possible for me to see it all in 20 minute, including the 10 minutes I stayed past closing time to at least read a couple of the wheel-shaped signs describing the bikes on display.

I arrived at 3:45 in the afternoon after an exploratory visit with the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. The Hyde Park neighborhood is very familiar to me, as my son attended University of Chicago and works there now. It was a little like going back home, in other words, traipsing around the crowded campus at UC with its street parking and gentrified neighborhoods.

The gloss and design of bikes from the recent past is a pleasure to behold.

The gloss and design of bikes from the recent past is a pleasure to behold.

When the visit was over with LSTC, I headed over to MSI thinking the museum would not close until 5:00 p.m. Silly me.

MUSEUM HOURS 9-4:00 PM the sign said at the gate to the parking garage.

And let’s talk for a moment about parking at MSI. It costs $20 whether you stay 10 minutes or the whole, entire day.

Which came as a shock when leaving. Yet it felt like even more of a shock compared to the $18 you pay for entrance to the museum.

So let’s get this straight. Parking in the garage at MSI has MORE VALUE than anything you’re going to see inside? Let me tell you something folks. The signs are pretty in purple and orange. But they don’t really hold your attention other than helping you find your car.

Nameplates of old have allure and collector's value.

Nameplates of old have allure and collector’s value.

That meant the takeaway from my visit to MSI was a bit of a downer. With only 10 minutes to officially tour the museum (who closes at 4:00? who, really?) and a stolen 10 minutes tacked on with no one chasing me out of there, I spent $38.00. Can you imagine taking a family of six to see the MSI? I think kid’s tickets were $15 or so. So That’s nearly $100 for a single day with parking. Then there’s lunch and any special exhibits you want to see.

For that kind of money I want to see every fucking bike in the universe. I want to see paintings of people on bikes, and giant photos of Tour de France riders humping up the Alpe du Huez.

Give me a recording of Queen’s “Bicycle Race” and throw in “Fat Bottomed Girls” just for the hell of it.

This display of a bike disassembled brings back nightmare days of the 1960s trying to put my bike back together with the mechanical ability of 2 on a scale of 10.

This display of a bike disassembled brings back nightmare days of the 1960s trying to put my bike back together with the mechanical ability of 2 on a scale of 10.

I know I’m getting carried away here with complaint about costs and scale of entertainment. I know that museums are struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising costs. It’s hard to find exhibits that bring fannies through the door. Then there’s the cost of marketing, promotions and public relations. A jaded media sometimes hardly pays attention, and the media market is so fragmented you hardly know how to reach your customers.

The Art of the Bicycle is elegantly posed and pretty. My eyes were opened to the strange forms of cycling that we’ve embraced since the 1800s. I would recommend a visit to the show if you have an interest in the structure, appearance and history of the bicycle. I love bikes.

Cyclists of a certain age may have flashbacks looking at the many bicycle seats on display. This old Schwinn seat saw plenty of ass time in its day.

Cyclists of a certain age may have flashbacks looking at the many bicycle seats on display. This old Schwinn seat saw plenty of ass time in its day.

I just wish there had been MORE for the MONEY and possibly MORE TIME to visit the exhibit and take it all in.

My fault on the time. I’ll take that hit. But if I could give any advice to the Museum of Science and Industry and all the other museums that will take this show inside their doors, it’s this. We cyclists have a saying about things that are difficult in life. “When you’re wrestling with a gorilla, you don’t quit when you get tired. You quit when the gorilla gets tired.”

Because while we know you museums out there are struggling to make ends meet, aren’t we all? The people coming through you doors have budgets just as tight as you. So don’t short shrift us on effort and value when it comes to exhibits like this. The idea was great. The execution is clean and interesting. But it’s kind of like you take us on the first two laps of a road race and pull out. Exhibitus Interruptus as it were.

It was pretty. But it was pretty light.

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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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