7 In Your Neighborhood: Chicago's 'magic' history

July 7, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The Chicago History Museum is home to a new exhibit that celebrates magic. It pays homage to the many performers who have made Chicago significant in the history of American magic. In our segment "ABC7 In Your Neighborhood," we take you to Lincoln Park where you might not believe everything you see.

It's the faintest sleight of the hand and the grandest optical illusions that have held audiences captive to magicians for generations.

The Chicago History Museum is celebrating that legacy through its new exhibit called, "Magic."

"It has three main component parts, an exhibition gallery with objects and activities that are designed to explore the history of magic in Chicago and great magicians," said curator John Russick. "We have an object theater that tells a great story of how to become a magician. And we also have a daily performance program of great magicians here."

The gallery dispays artifacts including the costume of Marshall Brodien, who for decades appeared as "Wizzo the Wizard" on "The Bozo Show." You can also see the milk can from which Harry Whoudini made his great escape in 1908. You can even try to squeeze yourself into a replica to get a feel for the space.

"He got inside a milk can filled with water, handcuffed and in the dark (and) he somehow managed to escape before a huge crowd of people," Russick said.

Whoudini was born in nearby Wisconsin, but was a frequent performer here and helped shape Chicago magicians. Some visitors say they hope the exhibit will help inspire some future magicians.

"The magic is great," said Dana Demarco, a visitor from Springfield. "They don't know much about magic, so it's fun. They've learned a lot here today."

For others, the exhibit conjures up a bit of nostalgia.

"It brought back memories because of the little kits over there," said Florida resident Holly Bush. "I remember when we were little kids getting those kits. And we remember getting those kits for our children and they would get so fascinated over it."

"Magic" runs all summer long through January at the Chicago History Museum. The museum is also offering public tours of magic "hot spots" in Chicago in conjunction with the exhibit.

Illinois residents can enjoy free admission to the museum during Illinois Resident Discount Days. For more information, visit http://chicagohistory.org/

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