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"The Art Institute of Chicago" Top 5 Page for this destination Illinois Things to Do Tip by traveldave

Illinois Things to Do: 139 reviews and 248 photos


The collections of the Art Institute of Chicago span over 5,000 years of human artistic expression from cultures around the world, and total more than 260,000 pieces. With 1,000,000 square feet (92,903 square meters) of exhibit space, the Art Institute of Chicago is the second-largest art museum in the United States after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

What is now the Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 as the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Its name was changed in 1882. The Art Institute of Chicago initially housed its modest collection of art in a building on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Avenue. With the announcement of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, the art institute pressed the city to construct a building in or near Grant Park for use during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and which would be turned over to the Art Institute of Chicago after the exposition ended. The city agreed, and the art institute's current building was completed in 1893. It was designed in the Beaux Art style of architecture by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Its entrance is guarded by a pair of lions sculpted by Edward Kemeys. Whenever a Chicago sports team plays in the championship game or series of its respective league, the lions are dressed in that team's uniform.

The Art Institute of Chicago has the world's largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art outside of France, including more than 30 paintings by Claude Monet. Other impressionist painters represented in the museum's collection include Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Vincent van Gogh.

The museum also has a significant collection of American art which contains pieces by Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Grant Wood.

Works from other notable artists such as El Greco, Amadeo Modigliani, and Pablo Picasso are also part of the museum's collection. Perhaps the three most famous and recognizable paintings in the museum are Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat, and American Gothic by Grant Wood.

The Art Institute of Chicago also offers a wide range of other art forms, including ancient Chinese bronzes, neolithic pottery from Thailand, arms and armor, textiles, and pre-Columbian pottery. The lower level of the museum is taken up by the Thorne Miniature Rooms that feature 1:12 scale miniature interiors showcasing American, European, and Asian architectural and furniture styles from the Middle Ages to the 1930s.

Directions: The Art Institute of Chicago is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue, in downtown Chicago.

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  • Updated Sep 28, 2012
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