Skip to content

Opening monologue: museums? now?

The following is a transcript of the opening monologue I do at the top of each show on WGN Radio. My show, the Saturday Night Special, is a single-topic program on which I discuss one topic all night. This week, I discussed museums. Yes, museums.


The velocity at which our country is changing at the moment can’t be overstated. Nearly every time we look up, a new executive order, or tweet, or the telling of a non-truth has become news. And, just this week, our fair city was the subject of one such tweet, grossly misstating what the city of Chicago is all about, and certainly misrepresenting its citizens.

And, while plenty of people are pushing for dialogue and understanding, plenty of others are past all that, and are focusing on action instead. One such action of course, is arming ourselves with information.

Way in advance, I planned tonight to talk about all the fascinating exhibits hosted by various museums around Chicago. And, indeed, we’re going to do that. But, isn’t it tone deaf to talk about something light and cultural and, dare I say even fun, when so much is weighing on so many of us, rapid changes echoing around the globe?

Maybe. But, maybe not. Given the state of the world, the country and the concerns of many citizens right here in Chicago, our centers of culture and history take on a new significance, especially such institutions gathered and preserved by specific communities.

Museums, after all, preserve the past, and perhaps help us better understand ourselves, each other, and the many narratives that make up history– after all, there never is a single story, despite what history books may have us believe with the prevailing ones.

Thinking of it that way, the importance of museums is only going to increase, because what’s past is present, and we need to understand histories now more than ever. And that, is what museums do.

So we’re going to talk museums in Chicago tonight. An institution, by definition, that cares for a collection of artifacts and objects of cultural, historic, creative or scientific significance, as decided by those who know communities best– whether from a moment in time from an uprising or a downfall, from a specific group of humans beings connected by identity, race, shared experience, religion, or profession.

Tonight, that’s what we’ll aim to explore– the significance of museums and their histories, and some special projects of museums right here in Chicago. Lovely, wonderful, strong, and determined Chicago. Not without it’s flaws to be sure, but certainly a fine city, despite what a certain Twitter account might say.

I’m Amy Guth and that’s all coming up tonight on the Saturday Night Special on 720 WGN.