Art Institute

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Martí Micolau

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  • History and architecture of the Art Institute
  • The main collections
  • Where is it and how to get there
  • Timetables and tickets

Overlooking Lake Michigan, Chicago is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations of the United States.

The city of Illinois delivers a rich range of attractions that allow tourists to have fun at any time of the day. Those who love art and museums cannot absolutely miss a place like the Art Institute.

Open since the end of the XNUMXth century, it is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world and attracts around every year 1,5 millions of visitors from all over the world.

Inside you can admire a permanent collection very large, to which are added temporary exhibitions dedicated to the main artistic forms.

Here is everything you need to know about the Art Institute to spend a pleasant day among priceless works of art.

History and architecture of the Art Institute

The Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest museum in the United States and inside it houses an infinite series of works belonging to different decorative arts.

Back in 1866, a group of over 30 artists set up an academy in Chicago, where art lessons were given and works of various kinds were collected.

Following the big fire which hit the city in 1871, the building that housed the institution was partially destroyed and since then a serious period of financial crisis begins.

In 1879 it was decided to found a new one Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, which incorporates the heritage of the previous academy. In 1882 it took the current name of Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1893 the headquarters were moved to Michigan Avenue, in an elegant and neoclassical building built to a design by architects Coolidge, Shepley and Rutan.

Five years later they are added two big lions in bronze on the sides of the main entrance which soon became a symbol of the museum.

Over time, thanks to donations and new acquisitions, the Art Institute expands its collections and thus becomes one of the most renowned art centers in the world.

Meanwhile, the same facility is being expanded, with the addition of new sections such as the McKinlock Jr. Memorial Court, the Kenneth Sawyer Goodman Theater, the BF Ferguson Memorial, the Morton Wing, the East Wing, the Japanese Gallery and the Kraft Education Center. .

The last major expansion of the Chicago museum was the Modern Wing, built on a project by Renzo Piano in 2009.

The new wing consists of a steel and glass building very futuristic, inspired by the skyscrapers of Chicago. Then there are sandstone finishes that visually recall the nineteenth-century headquarters.

The Modern Wing has made it possible to increase the exhibition space and can be reached from Millennium Park thanks to a pedestrian bridge about 200 meters long.

The galleries on the upper floors are illuminated by natural light by means of a named filter roof Flying Carpet, already present in important projects carried out by Piano for other art institutions.

The main collections

The permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago covers approximately 5000 years of human history, with over 300.000 works divided into 11 departments.

  • African Art and American Indian Art: the African collection includes about 400 artifacts, including ceramics, figurines, jewels and masks. Instead, the Amerindian collections show beautiful finds from Native American and Andean tribes.
  • american art: this collection contains some of the best known works of the American artistic tradition, such as Nighthawks by Edward Hopper and American Gothic by Grant Wood.
  • Ancient and Byzantine art: the collection of ancient art spans over 4000 years of history and consists of mosaics, pottery, sculptures, jewels, ceramics and glass and bronze objects of Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Egyptian and Byzantine origin.
  • Architecture and design: the section hosts more than 140.000 models and drawings from the XNUMXs to the present day. Among the works of landscape architecture, engineering and industrial design there are also those of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Asian Art: the Asian collection includes among its pieces some magnificent Chinese, Korean, Indian, Japanese and Middle Eastern artifacts. Among the 35.000 objects on display there are jades, ceramics, bronzes, statues, fabrics, woodcuts and much more.
  • European decorative arts: the European decorative arts department is made up of 25.000 works, among which furniture, ceramics and glass, enamel and ivory artifacts can be admired. Suggestive are the Arthur Rubloff Paperweight Collection and Thorne Miniature Rooms.
  • European paintings and sculptures: this is the most famous section of the museum and houses Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. There are over 30 paintings by Monet and some of the most famous works by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Van Gogh and other artists of the same era.
  • Modern and contemporary art: the current selection has been greatly enriched thanks to a donation in 2015. Among the most important masterpieces are Matisse's Bathers of a River, Picasso's Old Guitarist and several paintings by Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns .
  • Photography: until 1949 the Art Institute did not have a collection dedicated to photography. In the same year, the painter Georgia O'Keeffe donated part of the Alfred Stieglitz collection to the museum. Since then, another 20.000 exhibits have been added that span the history of photography from 1839 to today.
  • Prints and drawings: the collection consists of 60.000 prints and 11.500 drawings covering a period of time from the XNUMXth century to the contemporary age. You can see some works by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, James McNeill Whistler and Francisco Goya.
  • fabrics: this department collects 66.000 samples and 13.000 fabrics belonging to various cultures from 300 BC onwards. In particular, it is possible to see American quilts, English embroidery, Japanese garments and other textiles.

The program of available activities at the Art Institue it is also made up of temporary exhibitions, concerts, conferences, readings, film reviews, theatrical performances and educational courses.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the museum includes a library, a restaurant, three gardens, a shop and two cafes.

Skip-the-line admission to the Art Institute included in the Chicago CityPASS

Where is it and how to get there

The Art Institute of Chicago has its main entrance at number 111 of South Michigan Avenue, while access from the Modern Wing is al 159 East Monroe Street.

Located inside Grant Park and close to the shores of Lake Michigan, the museum is located in downtown Chicago and is not very difficult to reach.

Those who travel by car can park it at one of the parking lots of the adjacent public parks such as the Millennium Park Garage and Grant Park North Garage.

Those who prefer to travel by public transport can take bus lines 6 and 28 which stop near the museum.

Alternatively, you can reach the Art Institute with the subway, in the city known as The L.

The green, brown, orange, purple and pink lines stop at Adams & Wabash station which is located one block from the museum. The blue and red lines, on the other hand, stop at Monroe station, two blocks away.

Timetables and tickets

The entrance times of the Art Institute are as follows:

  • Monday from 11: 00 to 17: 00
  • Thursday to Sunday from 11am to 00pm
  • Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

Sometimes in summer the museum extends its opening on Thursdays until 20 pm. To keep up to date, it is advisable to consult the Official site of the museum before planning a visit.

As for tickets, here are the detailed rates for non-Chicago residents:

  • Adults: $ 25
  • Senior (+65 years): $ 19
  • Students: $ 19
  • Boys (14-17 years): 19 years
  • Children under 14: free access

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