The Halim Time & Glass Museum in Evanston, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) is one of the most beautiful museums that I have ever visited. Unfortunately, when I went, I was not writing this blog yet, so did not take photos to prove it. The museum contains approximately 1,100 timepieces in addition to a gorgeous collection of stained glass windows.
The Halim Time & Glass Museum was founded in 2017 by Cameel Halim, an Egyptian immigrant who became wealthy by working in the real estate industry. Always fascinated with clocks, he only began collecting them about twenty years ago. His collection includes 200 timepieces that he purchased for $5 million from the collection of the late Seth Atwood. Atwood’s collection of 1,550 timepieces used to be on display at his Time Museum in Rockford, Illinois, from 1971 until its closing in 1999. Unfortunately, I never visited the Time Museum, which was once one of the largest museums about the history of time in the world. After the museum closed, the collection was displayed at the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago for a few years, but then was sadly auctioned off to different bidders, including Halim.
Halim originally planned to open his museum in 2012, however, the Victorian mansion that would have housed the museum burned down in 2011. Fortunately, none of Halim’s collections were inside the home yet. However, the fire meant that he had to create a new building for his museum.
When you enter the Halim Museum, you find yourself in the stained glass exhibit, which takes up the entire first floor. The glass displays include works by a variety of artists including the famous American, Louis Comfort Tiffany. I am not sure if it is a permanent exhibit, but when I visited the museum, there was a room specifically dedicated to Tiffany and his work. While going through the stained glass exhibit, you will learn how European stained glass artists usually painted the glass, whereas American styles that evolved in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used new techniques to design glass. This included layering pieces of colored glass to create different textures and colors in the design.
The remainder of the museum is dedicated to the history of time. This exhibit begins chronologically, with the oldest clocks first. The timepieces are from all over the world, although most are European. There are cuckoo clocks, pocket watches, grandfather clocks, sun dials, chronometers, and many other types of timepieces. For some of the more unusual clocks, there are screens next to them so that you can click to see a video of how that specific clock looks while it is running. None of the clocks are currently running at the museum because that would potentially be too loud. The most elaborate and bejeweled clocks in the museum are those that the British made as gifts for the Chinese emperors during the eighteenth century. These include clocks that look like bird cages, with the clock part located on the outside bottom of the cage.
The Halim Museum is a little pricey, with regular adult admission being $20. However, seniors and students get discounts, while children and military personnel can enter for free. Tours are available to visitors each day at 1 PM, except for Mondays, when the museum is closed.
Sources and Further Reading
“About the Halim Time & Glass Museum.” The Halim Time & Glass Museum. https://www.halimmuseum.org/about (accessed December 12, 2020).
Bullington, Jonathan. “Evanston Fire Destroys Historic Building Slated to Be Museum.” Chicago Tribune. March 16, 2011. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2011-03-16-ct-met-evanston-fire-0316-20110316-story.html (accessed December 12, 2020).
Haas, Kevin. “Former Rockford Collector’s Rare Clock Sells for Record $6.8M.” Rockford Register Star. December 6, 2012. https://www.rrstar.com/article/20121206/BLOGS/312069867 (accessed December 12, 2020).
Horan, Deborah. “He’s the Man of the Hour for Clock Buffs. LA Times. May 27, 2007. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2007-may-27-adna-clocks27-story.html (accessed December 12, 2020).
“It’s About Time.” Roadtrip America. September, 1996. https://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/timemus.htm (accessed December 12, 2020).
McColley, Robert and William D. Walters, Jr. World Book Encyclopedia, s. v. “Illinois.” Chicago: World Book, Inc., 1996.
“Stained Glass Masters.” Halim Time & Glass Museum. https://www.halimmuseum.org/stained-glass-masters-archive (accessed December 12, 2020).