After a visit to the Oriental Institute museum in Chicago, I did a pit stop at the Elizabeth Morse Genius reading room, hoping the name would top up my IQ.

A charming chapel for study, with a Victorian arts and crafts gothic feel, chequerboard roof decorations, oak panelled walls, and chunky oak desks and reading chairs.  Swags of ivy draped across the stone casement windows.  Siffling of old radiators behind wood-framed iron grilles.

On my way in – and out – I passed an office that was a perfect scholar’s lair, the door left open so I could peek in – a fine, ramshackle, book-piled old place, geological layers of journals and papers, such as a friend, describing another friend’s desk, once described as the ‘terminal moraine of some vast academic glacier’.

Photo credit: Foy Scalf on Flickr

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