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The More Things Change...

Published on the Not For Tourists Guide to Chicago, January 29, 2009

Opulence is out in these uncertain economic times, but you can still explore the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum.

Located in one of the grandest mansions of Gilded Age Chicago, the museum has taken some of the most spectacular objects of the nineteenth century from the Driehaus Collection and placed them alongside the original furniture and restored architecture of a home once known as the Marble Palace. During the ninety minute tour, you’ll see elaborately carved woodwork, stunning stained glass, and authentic Tiffany lamps in their natural habitats. Don’t worry if you don’t know Tiffany from Stacy, as the docent will explain in great detail and no background knowledge is needed to appreciate the exquisite beauty of the art and architecture.

Just as interesting as the intricacies of the house are the idiosyncrasies of its former owners–you have to wonder about the kind of people who mount animal heads from floor to ceiling. You may not share their tastes, but you might relate to their circumstances: a few years after the home was built the American banking system collapsed. The Driehaus Museum is available for tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.