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italian shell

April 13
“Elizabeth Taylor’s Collection”

Steven Zick, Vice President and Director for Christie’s in Chicago presents the landmark auctions of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor at Christie’s New York in 2011. With every single item sold, the sale drew unprecedented interest from bidders throughout the world. Her collection included jewelry, fashion, decorative arts and film memorabilia. Mr. Zick is also a charity auctioneer and lectures on art and appraisal-related topics nationwide.

Sunday Lecture – Adult - 2 p.m. - 60 minutes
Regular Museum Admission
Reservations Recommended – (630) 833-1616

April 26 and May 10
Rock & Mineral Identification

Geologist Sara Johnson presents an introduction to rocks and minerals. Learn to identify minerals through basic mineral testing. Hands on identification includes hardness tests. Great for teachers and rockhounds, this program qualifies for Scout merit badges. All materials are provided. Scout groups require adult supervision.

Activity – Ages 8 yrs. to Adult
75 minutes – Classes 10:30 a.m. for children & 2:00 p.m. for adults only.
Admission: $5.00 per person, Museum Members $3.00
Reservations Required: (630) 833-1616

May 10
Creative Crossweave Bracelet

Pat Koko of the West Suburban Lapidary Club teaches an intriguing and fun bracelet technique using braided bead thread, crystals and seed beads. Students will learn a pattern that they can easily replicate on their own. All materials included. Necessary tools will be available to share. Complete a lovely bracelet to wear or give to Mom.

Ages 15 yrs to adult – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Beginner to Advanced level class
Fee: $40.00 per person, Museum Members: $35.00
Reservations Required: (630) 833-1616




lizzadroMay 18
“Museum Day in Elmhurst”

Ride the trolley and see all three Museums in Elmhurst. Participate in a variety of activities at each Museum. At the Lizzadro Museum, see Modern Designer Jewelry from the Smithsonian and make your own rock critter to take home. At the Elmhurst Historical Museum, tour the “Cubs vs. Sox: The Chicago Civil Wars” exhibit, pose for your own baseball card and enjoy refreshments. At the Elmhurst Art Museum, view “Lifeloggers: Chronicling the Everyday” featuring artists who use data from their daily lives as inspiration for their work and enjoy a related craft. Get your Museum Day flyer stamped at all three Museums and be eligible to win a prize!

1 p.m. to 5 p.m. All Ages Welcome.
Admission is Free at all Museums!

May 3 & 4
Art in the Park

Hosted by the Elmhurst Park District, artists from around the country will be selling their creations in Wilder Park. Outside the Museum, members of the West Suburban Lapidary Club will be demonstrating forms of lapidary art. Admission is free to the Museum for both days so come in, take a look and learn something new about lapidary art.

Free Admission
Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

June 7
Stone Hunt

This hands-on activity allows children and adults to search for gems and minerals among more common rocks. Learn the difference between rocks and minerals and how to distinguish between them. Each rock or mineral found is identified and can be taken home.

Activity - Ages 5 yrs. to Adult - 45 minutes - 2 p.m.
$5.00 per person, Museum Members Free
Reservations Recommended

June 21
Fossil Collecting Field Trip

Travel by motor coach to two quarries in Rockford, Illinois. Collect Ordovician Period (450 million years old) marine fossils in dolomitic limestone. Collectable fossils include: brachiopods, cephalopods, corals, crinoids, gastropods, and more.

Field Trips - Ages 8 yrs. to Adult
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Fee: $40.00 per person – Museum Members $35.00
Reservations Required: 630-833-1616

Italian Shell Cameos in the Lizzadro Collection


The Lizzadro Museum collection contains numerous shell cameos; some are on permanent exhibit beside the agate and hard stone cameos. Our spring special exhibit features 22 religious themed shell cameos including the Stations of the Cross. The cameos were carved in Torre del Greco, Italy and purchased by Joseph Lizzadro in the first half of the 20th century. 

The art of shell cameo and coral carving has been handed down for generations in the Campania region of Italy. Along the Mediterranean Bay of Naples, Torre del Greco is just north of Pompeii and just south of Naples. For centuries, fine jewelry has been created here. Shell cameos are  carved in relief. The multi-colored layers of particular seashells and agates are the best-suited materials for cameos because of the excellent effect of contrast between the relief and the background. 

As author Anna Miller describes in her book Cameos Old & New: “The cameo has been produced in Italy since the Roman artists engraved gemstones for their emperors and rich patrons. Rome became the center of the glyptic arts. After the fall of the Roman Empire, glyptic artists remained in Naples and continued engraving seals for merchants and others using agates and other hard stones. These materials were costly. Fisherman brought exotic multicolored shells from the East African coast. The carvers saw the shells as an abundant replacement for the agates and soon began incorporating shells as their carving material.”

The helmet shell species has been used for cameo carving for centuries. Two varieties of the helmet shell are best suited for cameos. Found on the East African coast, the Cypraecassis rufa or carnelian shell has a reddish-orange background and a pale yellowish outer layer. The Cassis madagascariensis or sardonyx shell is reddish-brown with a white top layer. Although this shell was named for Madagascar it is actually found in the Bahamas and the Caribbean Sea. Both shells have been exported to Italy for over 100 years and both varieties are represented in the special exhibit.

The cameos are exceptionally fine examples of hand-carved shells. The exhibition features the 14 Stations of the Cross, the Last Supper after Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, portraiture styles of St. Francis, St. John and St. Teresa, Madonna & Child, Blessed Mother and guardian angels. The exhibit will be on display through May 11, 2014.

Cameos Old & New, Anna M. Miller, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1991.
Lizzadro Museum Publication Winter-Spring 1980 & 1989.


Geology in Your Own Backyard!
By Sara Kurth

A drive though Illinois might make one think that Illinois is a lot of prairie, farmland and most noticeably, very flat. However, throughout our geologic past, Illinois has looked quite different. From a tropical sea teeming with life to a frozen tundra buried under miles of glaciers, Illinois is rich with geologic history. Within an hour drive from Elmhurst, one can discover some of the many treasures locked in the land if they know where to look. This article should help shed some light on the mysterious geology of our prairie state.

Beginning approximately 542-million years ago, when life “exploded” on earth, Illinois was in the heart of that explosion. Life on earth during the early part of the Paleozoic Era was confined to the oceans. The seas were a smorgasbord of life, from scavenging trilobites to ammonites hunting prey. Illinois was a vibrant environment during this time of tropical seas, as can be observed in the limestone quarries located throughout the Chicago area. The limestone/dolostone quarries found here are Silurian in age, approximately 444-million years old. The closer you get to the Illinois/Wisconsin border, the older the rocks become. Rockford quarries tend to be much older, dating to approximately 488-million years ago (Ordovician Period). Further south, near Ottawa, Illinois, the same aged sandstone forms the remnants of Starved Rock State Park. This overlying sandstone represents a beach environment, when Illinois had beachfront property!

The coming and going of oceans is not uncommon in the geologic record. During the Pennsylvanian Period, approximately 318-million years ago, the oceans of Illinois disappeared and left swamplands. The swamps of Illinois covered much of the state, but only advanced north enough to cover Grundy County (just south of DuPage County). These nutrient rich swamplands provided Illinois with coal, as well as some very interesting fossil specimens. The Mazon Creek fossils are found in ironstone concretions dating back to approximately 300-million years ago (Pennsylvanian Period). These fossils are famous for their soft-bodied preservation. The Mazon Creek Lagerstatten is a rare geologic phenomenon.

Much of Illinois’ history has actually been lost to glaciers! Approximately 1.8 million years ago glaciers, thick ice sheets that descended from Canada, covered Illinois. These glaciers advanced and retreated many times for the next million years or so. The glaciers scraped off millions of years of Illinois’ geologic past, including any rocks with clues about dinosaurs that may have lived in Illinois. The glaciers left many traces of their presence, including glacial erratics (rocks not indigenous to Illinois that have been tumbled smooth) and glacial moraines (an accumulation of unconsolidated debris). Moraines can be found all around the Chicago area. A prominent moraine can be found along the Illinois Prairie Path in Glen Ellyn. Evidence of the massive glaciers can be seen all around, once you know where to look!

quarryTo see more of Illinois’ geologic past, join the Lizzadro Museum and travel by motor coach to collect fossils this summer. Two trips are tentatively scheduled for June and July to visit Rockford, Illinois to collect Ordovician Period marine fossils 450-million years old. Collectable fossils include: brachiopods, cephalopods, corals, crinoids, gastropods, and more. Mazon Creek collecting trips are scheduled in March and this year another field trip is tentatively scheduled for September. Collecting field trips fill up quickly, so make your reservations early!


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