Poem inspired by the Rosenwald Museum in Chicago

Posted on April 1st, 2014 by

Inspired by his son’s love for the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Julius Rosenwald founded the Museum of Science and Industry for “every young growing mind in Chicago” (Tribune, Apr 17, 1926). Years later, Rosenwald’s vision for an interactive, awe-inspiring experience has been cemented as an icon of the Chicago cultural landscape and continues to be a must-see attraction for natives and visitors alike. In her poem, “Doll’s House,” Chicagoan Donna Katzin fondly remembers visits to the Museum of Science and Industry with her father. Like for many young girls, Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle captured her imagination and created a lasting impression.


A room from Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle
Photo credit: kthypryn (flickr)

Doll’s House

Every Sunday we visit the museum.
My father takes my hand, leads me
to the miniature glass mansion
of pinpoint lights embroidered on midnight
like winking opals on taffeta.

He never breaks the spell,
as if fine filaments strung through the rooms
might shatter with a word,
wears the smiling mask
I never lift or question.

We hold our breaths,
do not risk a whisper
that might snuff out the magic,
condemn us to the darkness
of duties and debts.

I tiptoe through the corridors,
sit on matchbox thrones, ascend spiral stairs,
waltz in the vaulted ballroom to imagined melodies —
a princess in a palace
abandoned by the king.

These years later, his wrinkled hand is gone
with letters of his pen, notes of his violin.
Now he is the museum. I am still
the one on the outside
watching.

Donna Katzin
January 31, 2014
New York City