Lots of places like to say that they have an attraction that’s really a gem but in the Chicagoland (greater Chicago vicinity) city of Elmhurst in DuPage County there’s something to see that literally lives up to that sparkling description. Joseph F. Lizzadro, Sr. founded the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in the late 1930s after he acquired a Chinese jade carving and realized that he had a passion for things crafted out of gem material. His fondness for lapidary art is reflected in what the museum exhibits today; that first jade carving and hundreds of other dazzling pieces.
The Lizzadro Museum has an entire floor dedicated to fine art made from gemstone and other precious materials; visitors can see such things as Chinese vases, ewers, statues of Buddhist saints and much more carved from single pieces of jade or jadeite, cameos made from agate, an ivory “puzzle ball” and even an interpretation of The Last Supper carved in ivory. There’s an amber statue depicting a bountiful harvest that was made in Italy in the late 1800s, a nephrite “hanging bottle” and several very unique pieces like a 10-panel Imperial Screen from China fashioned out of rosewood and cinnabar and decorated with malachite, amethyst, lapis lazuli, coral, ivory, tiger eye, turquoise and a handful of other colorful materials. Lizzadro himself is honored with a spectacular 1300-piece Florentine mosaic memorial portrait and his grandson, James “Chris” Lizzadro is similarly memorialized with Castle Lizzadro, a fantasy piece made with 18K gold, diamonds, amethyst, Brazilian agate and more.
A second floor at the Lizzadro Museum is called the Rock and Mineral Experience and here visitors will see exactly that, beginning with a huge chunk of petrified wood right at the entrance. Cases full of mineral specimens display rarities such as delicate scolecite crystals from India, a shockingly-blue azurite “sun” from Australia and highly-polished slabs of datolite from Michigan. Pieces of agatized coral and ammolite fossils gleam in their cases too. The rock and mineral and fine art worlds collide in the Lizzadro gift shop; rock hounds and collectors will find a wide variety of reasonably-priced specimens available for purchase and art lovers can pick out a carved work done in the style of the museum’s priceless pieces.
The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is open Tuesday through Sunday and entrance on Friday is free. For more information visit the Lizzadro Museum website.
DuPage County is situated just west of Chicago; some of the other attractions in the county include the Sheldon Peck Homestead (Peck was an artist and his home was a stop on the Underground Railroad), The Morton Arboretum, Cantigny Park (see the home of former Chicago Tribune editor Robert R. McCormick here) and famed eatery Ditka’s where namesake and legendary former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka sometimes makes an appearance.
For more information visit the DuPage County Convention & Visitors Bureau website.