Savor ‘Chocolate’ immersion in Milwaukee

The sweetest excursion to be taken next month is to the Milwaukee Public Museum, which opens “Chocolate: The Exhibition” on Oct. 9.

This is the same aromatic, educational and fun show that was put together and on display at The Field Museum, Chicago, a few years ago. It is about economic impact as well as good taste, history as well as culture.

Visitors will learn how chocolate is made, tracing the product from the cacao tree to the candy bar. Scenes from a candy factory, set to music, turn a production line into an art form.

It will smell like chocolate, and chocolate will be the theme of all kinds of exquisite souvenirs in the gift shop at the end of the exhibit. Think soap and lotion as well as edibles and ornaments.

This high-calorie splash, timed to intersect with the holiday season, will be up until the end of the year. It is appropriate for children as well as adults; access is included with museum admission ($9, but $8 for senior citizens and $5.50 for ages 3-15). To learn more, go to www.mpm.edu or call (414) 278-2700.

The financially challenged Milwaukee museum will have a solid follow-up punch to “Chocolate: The Exhibition.” One of the world’s biggest exhibits of papal art and religious objects opens there Feb. 4, 2006.

Saint Peter & The Vatican: the Legacy of the Popes” will showcase vestments, gems and gifts given to popes. Many of the items have never been shown to the public, and this is the exhibit’s only Midwest stop.

Highlights will include a reproduction of the Tomb of St. Peter and a bronze casting of Pope John Paul II’s hands.

Timed tickets for this exhibit, in place until May 7, already are on sale. Cost is $18.50 ($17.50 for senior citizens, $11.50 for children), which includes admission to the rest of the museum. Call (888) 700-9069 to place an order.

Fall is a great time to take a drive, and 53 southwestern Wisconsin artists want to show off more than colorful foliage. The annual Fall Art Tour, Oct. 14-16, is a 60-mile driving tour that connects Mineral Point, Dodgeville, Spring Green and Baraboo.

Artists along the route will open their studios, and many will demonstrate their craft. This part of Wisconsin is a natural masterpiece of color during fall; here is another reason to enjoy a scenic ride into the country.

There will be papermakers and painters, potters and photographers. Artists use wood to fiber to glass in their work.

Information about the artists and route is at www.fallarttour.com, or call (608) 987-3787 to get a free brochure about the event. The brochure includes places to eat and sleep, as well as studio and gallery locations.

Head just south of the state line, and Jane will be there to greet you. “Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur,” the story of the life and excavation of a young Tyrannosaurus rex, recently opened at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford, Ill.

Paleontologists consider Jane’s remains to be the world’s most complete and best preserved young T. Rex. Visitors can learn how the dino was found and excavated, what her habitat was like 66 million years ago and why the discovery is important.

Jane is 7.5 feet tall – one-half the size of an adult T. Rex – and was 11 or 12 years old when she died in the Montana Badlands.

To learn more, see www.visitjane.com or call (815) 965-3433. Admission is $5 ($4 for ages 3-17). Discount packages, which also include lodging and dining, are offered in conjunction with this new, permanent exhibit.

Last, a package of another kind, of particular interest to fans of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural work. Eaglewood Resort & Spa presents a “Prairie Passion Package” that includes accommodations for two nights, plus tickets for two to tour Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park, Ill.

The world’s largest concentration of Wright-designed structures is in Oak Park. This historic district has 25 other buildings by him.

The Eaglewood is in Itasca, Ill., about 20 miles northwest of Oak Park. Both suburbs are northwest of downtown Chicago. The Wright package is $439 for two people; it also includes a cocktail, spa treatment and copy of a book about Wright.

The resort has a Prairie style of architecture, inspired by Wright. There also is an 18-hole golf course. To learn more, go to www.eaglewoodresort.com or call (877) 285-6150.