The Field Museum's Backroom at Chicago Athletic Association

Art Direction / Design / Produce

Photos by Zachary James Johnston

Photos by Zachary James Johnston


In winter 2017, The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, The Field Museum, Johalla Projects and Land and Sea Dept. opened The Backroom as part of the hotel’s on-going pop-up bar series.

From February 25-March 25, the CAA’s ground floor Tank Space transformed into The Backroom, and celebrated Specimens: Unlocking the Secrets of Life, a special exhibition at the Field Museum that opened March 10 and took a deep dive into the museum’s vast collections.


The pop-up was designed by Chicago-based art gallery Johalla Projects and operated by Land and Sea Dept. featuring cocktails from LSD Beverage Director Paul McGee.

It featured actual specimens from the Field’s huge collection, available to guests to explore for the first time off museum grounds. Additionally, the pop-up featured interactive programming with Field Museum professionals in the space each night on a variety of topics, ranging from space to taxidermy and more.

The Backroom gave guests the rare opportunity to chat in person with leading experts in the fields of botany, zoology, geology, history, and more, all while enjoying cocktails in a unique space!