The Art Institute of Chicago is a Must-See Destination for Tri-State Art Lovers
Tired Feet, Happy Soul
As an art lover, the Art Institute of Chicago has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. This past weekend, I was finally able to visit the highly-ranked museum and it definitely did not disappoint! If my feet hadn't grown so tired, I could have stayed even longer than the almost three hours we spent admiring the extensive collection. There is no doubt in my mind how this prestigious museum became one of the best in the United States.
Founded in 1879, the Art Institute was both a school and museum that played a significant role in helping rebuild the powerful metropolis after the Great Chicago fire of 1871.
In 1893, the Institute moved locations to its permanent building where the infamous lions greet visitors at the entrance. It has seen eight major expansions and houses over 300,000 works of art from all over the world. The collection spans a large building of almost a million square feet, attracting visitors from all over.
An Unbelievable Collection
From Africa to Asia, to Europe and the Americas, the Institute's collection of art includes pieces from all over the world. The collection includes a huge variety of styles ranging from paintings to sculptures, architecture, and even armor. With a collection this enormous and varied, there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy whether they are someone who has studied art or someone without any prior knowledge. Not to mention, there were so many famous artworks, I lost count of how many I recognized. And take it from me, nothing beats the amount of detail you can see when you view a work of art up close that no photo can truly capture. You really have to experience it for yourself.
Here is just a small sampling of what the Art Institute of Chicago has for visitors to see!
Self-Portrait, Vincent Van Gogh
Hartwell Memorial Window, Agnes Nothrop and Tiffany Studios
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat
American Gothic, Grant Wood
Red Armchair, Pablo Picasso
Water Lilies, Claude Monet
Four Mona Lisas, Andy Warhol
Short on Time?
If the Art Institute's collection seems overwhelming or if you don't have hours to spend there, don't worry! The Institute has a condensed tour of everything you need to see in just an hour, making it easy to see a little of everything in just one short visit.
Tips to Keep in Mind
If you are planning to visit the Art Institute, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Purchase tickets online in advance to avoid long lines.
- Buy a parking pass in advance. You will thank me for this! The Grant Park South garage is the closest place to park.
- Wear comfortable shoes! Seriously, you will be walking so much that it is important to wear shoes that are appropriate for lots of activity. I opted for cute boots during my visit and my tired feet hated me.
- Allow for 2 to 3 hours minimum. If you plan to view the artworks in more depth, give yourself more time.
- Download the museum's app for free audio commentary and guided tours.
- Taking photos is encouraged! However, use of flash, video recording, tripods, and selfie sticks are not allowed. Also, certain pieces cannot be photographed so pay attention to signs letting you know if you are not allowed to take a picture of that particular artwork.
- Don't stand too close to the artwork. For most exhibits, there is rope showing you how much space to leave. However, not every piece has this guide so be mindful. Museum staff will definitely tell you to back up if you are observing too closely. And of course, touching is a BIG no-no.
- No food or drink is allowed. And yes, they will make you throw it away before entering. Water bottles are okay as long as you have a bag that they can be securely carried in.
- Don't forget to visit the museum shop! There are so many cool souvenirs to choose from that you won't want to choose just one.