Chicago, Field Museum, Founder And Executive Director discussed on Nick Digilio
Four in Glen ellyn downtown along the lakefront, it's thirty five degrees. I'm Don clap in the WGN radio newsroom. And these are the stories that matter on seven twenty WGN. Brian Noonan on seven twenty WGN. We are talking to the history of beer in Chicago with Liz Gabay. She is the founder and executive director of Chicago bruise EM. They have an exhibition going on now at the field museum brewing up Chicago beer transformed. The city you can see it now through January fifth at the field museum. Liz, thanks again for staying up with it is a fascinating exhibit is as I've been going through the website Brazilian, Chicago Brazilian dot org. Tell people a little bit about what the exhibit Holtz. Yeah. It it tells the story of Chicago from eighteen thirty three to eighteen ninety three. We were very specific about those dates because eighteen thirty three is the year that Chicago is founded the city, but as a township so before the city township. An H E world twenty matched position. So those dates from important to us because it really is a beginning of Chicago. It really is sort of a turning point for our city post fire, and you really just sort of changes interior moving forward into the twentieth century, and it's incredibly important for development of the city, but also the development of the beer industry. So the focus really is looking at the immigrant community mostly the community who live in Chicago, and they needed the beer industry and built it and along the way also built the city. So it's so follows three narratives Chicago of beer and of any. So it's kind of a unique way to look at how each of these. What sort of parts call come together? And it's to me it's sort of like makes you think about okay, one didn't happen. The other one would have succeeded as it did. So it's kind of a unique way of looking at Michiko history. But history for sure and it's divided up into four sections in the there is it's funny that you you tell this together the city the beer immigration because the immigrants. We're facing a lot of backlash not not unlike things are happening now. But that lead that lead to, you know, city officials are township officials at that point trying to pass prohibition laws trying to get rid of the beer, and it was kind of a shady way to get rid of immigrants as well. Right. Yeah. You know? I'm actually glad you brought that up because the whole reason we actually chose that integrate narrative was so that people would make connections to present day history. Does repeat some in the mid eighteen hundreds had a lot of Jim in Irish. Everybody every immigrant. You can imagine coming Chicago and the built environment. Feeding the city that place. Nothing. But a swamp in eighteen thirty. They are coming in. Learning to work together to to treat this this new city, but same time the only people who have been here for a while. Didn't really like the newcomers. And so that each in fifties, you had a lot of anti immigrant laws being passed or anti internet sentiments. And so that's a battle. So the big moment that happens in eighteen fifty five it's for someone of civil on ration. It really is sort of all sorted by this anti immigrant mayor who we have and kind of. Kind of stick it to everybody. But they organize for the first time in type back, and you know, came to change those laws so brands of happening for me. It's really an important story, of course, because of that small amount of civil unrest. But it's called eighteen fifty five right because all who didn't people's feet to. And when they could drink, and even more importantly, I think is that they stay organized and following year. When when this mayor Levi was up for reelection. And they finally went to vote for. And he wasn't re-elected. So for me. Lago. Be right. It actually is a moment that kind of sets the tone such Chicago's identity machines. Well, it was I never I was not familiar with the lager beer, riot till I was reading up to talk to you. And it is a fascinating moment in history. And it really did. There were so many similarities between data event eighteen fifty five and what we've been seeing over the last few years and actually the last couple of decades in this country. Yeah. Nuts. I it's you think about what happened. Yeah. And here we are in two thousand eighteen at the same battle than cost the same struggles. And. It's definitely a very complicated story. So we actually share that story in a video format and were actually really lucky that that video is narrated for us by local after Michael, Shannon. Oh, very nice. Now, you have you had a history with the field museum you'd work there before was it. When you approach them with this exhibition because the Chicago Brazilian, which we'll get into later is still. It's evolving. It's still a project that that is waiting to come to total fruition. Did you was it a hard sell to say, listen, I know you've got dinosaurs in your world renowned? Let's talk about beer a little bit in the museum. Yeah. You know, it's it's actually really neat partnership. And I didn't go to them. They came to me, which is. Yeah. And and was you know, I've been looking on the Chicago begins his twenty four team building a team, and they trying to iron out who we are and mission vision brand identity all that stuff that you need to do for any showed up and we worked hard for two years in public in may twenty sixteen. So we had an official launch a may twenty sixteen and you know, we invited all kinds of folks from all over town. We thought it'd be interested and at that time the field museum. Had actually already been very pro active about having their own beers at the museum. And this is something that I was very much into admire what they're doing certainly something that that I believe in in my line of work. I kill the study. And so I found out who who the director of that whole enterprise wise and Email address, and I invited her the party to the launch. And she arrived. She actually came and introduce yourself for me at the party and the next day. I mean, Email I've seen to go have watch. And we did. And we kind of said, you know, we need to work together would love we love what you're doing. Now believe in it, and I really feel that as a larger more well known and historic institution responsibility is to help foster, and you guys so we really kind showed what the bench and just kind of fun thing. And that that partnership naturally involved until conversation about okay? So what didn't exhibit ever be possible? And we just kind of going with it. And earlier this year, they said, all right? We should really doing this. And I know you're doing it. That's an amazing story it for free again would people at first blush. Go beer, you get beer everywhere. You don't realize how woven into the tapestry of the city that that it is because of all the immigrants that came here. And there, you know, you talk about the first German immigrants. William Harrison, Andrea soldier who came and they they started basically the first brewery in this city, correct. About eighteen thirty five ish, they were German immigrants. She came in New York, and they have some money in your pocket. And they basically loaded up the barrels of ale and equipment came in Chicago. You know, one of the assets of having all these comes is that they brought a lot of their still fashion their knowledge and lucky for us. Germans will earliest to arrive here. And you know, they they bought that skill set of making beards a whole lecture. That that you know, when we think about Chicago industry in the beginnings of Chicago, we often think about no stockyards Gallow Jared protector, and and we really just need to kill beer into that mix because without the beer industry. I don't know that Chicago would be today was it difficult as you as you began working on the Bruce and history on tap. And all all the things that you do. Again, beer, beer, just kind of seems unless you're in the brewery business. Most people don't pay a lot of attention to it other than when they're drinking. It was finding a lot of a lot of the things for the for the exhibit the photos, the stories was it more difficult than if you were trying to do a more quote unquote, traditional line of study. Not really only because I've been doing this, you know, like nineteen ninety nine two thousand so I've sort of already covered a possible where I know where to look for things and develop relationships. And how many of where I do research so near the stories that we wanted to tell and I knew the partner is that we should reach out. You not only on you know. Seeing an object. So we wanted to show really about people who would understand what we are trying to do is show happened in two thousand six I sort of looking at the Chicago museum and five thousand six nine mmediately pushed for the new type of tore type of programs history pub, crawls I would take people out to bars, and we would visit these bars, and I would talk about so she along the way and when I catch that idea. People thought out crazy. I remember when my boss, wait, wait a minute. You wanna take people out drinking? That's it. But listen out. And so I really had to. Several times. And it was a very tight leash. They let me do a couple of tours at first, and then it should like sheen told people started to understand it and became a very popular thing. And obviously, you know, now you see alcohol museums all the time. You know, what I was really kinda like the whole notion of having alcohol involved in any sort of educational aspect of anything really thought about it was like having it being dumbed down and say really this weird negative view of what it was something. I I really try to battle shut my whole career. And luckily. And people shutting down those walls, a looking at alcohol, should you know, elixir that makes you feel funny, you know, and to hold reunions mission is that beer is more than just a beverage. It's a powerful cultural force with ability to Bill Canadian may change. Well, and that's really what we're trying to do. And I think that's that's you know, you said it's your, but it is a huge important deal. Because you think about when you talked about the taverns being being the heart of the neighborhood. And that's where the history of the neighborhood goes, and I just got back from the UK. And I know you are on the you this. So you were on some they drinking studies network, which is a UK organization, but pub history over there is so much different. But it's it's not in the fact that it's still a neighborhood thing in the people who who live there, and they share the stories in its it's where politics happens. It's where great debates happen. It's where arguments happened so to tie to tie beer in with cultural studies now. So I guess in hindsight it's easier to say, yeah. It makes perfect sense. Yeah. You know, when you think about a lot of these early tavern pub, no matter what type of world you're in. But even you know, closer to home United States bars really important centers, where people would go, and, you know, be around people who look like talk by them sink like them. You might have newspapers that were in your native language. You wanna be with like people think about it today? He's still do that. And so they were very important places. Where people would collect information sheriff formation, I call this a lot I have earns original Facebook. It's where you would, you know, share information and get a lot of gossip network. You know, if you had someone in sort of back home and say, you know, Poland, and you need they're gonna try to come to the United States and get a job. He would go to these bars, and you were asking questions and try to make those connections in and get him or her job. And so do very important gathering station. So. Doc. American history for sure so looking at them. Historic perspective makes a lot of sense. Now, you mentioned you mentioned a beer in museums. And you said the field museum does have we, unfortunately when we're walking through the brewing up Chicago. How do how beer transformed the city the exhibition at the field museum? We can't grab an icy cold beer, but the museum does have to specific local beers in there in the bistro that people can enjoy in..