Whether an art lover or not, a trip to Chicago isn’t complete without a visit to the city’s Art Institute, and the critics agree. In 2014 TripAdvisor, the popular website for frequent travelers, published a list of the world’s top museums, and The Art Institute came out on top.
The museum, which encompasses 5,000 years of human expression and contains more than 260,000 works of art, is staggered over three levels and has art from more than 50 countries on six continents. In addition to its permanent displays, the museum hosts 30 rotating exhibitions and hundreds of gallery talks and performances each year.
The diverse collections include pieces from a variety of media including painting, prints, photography, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles, architectural drawings and more. The Institute is known for its collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings including Georges Seurat’s 1884 “A Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte,” Renoir’s 1879 “Acrobats at the Circque Fernando,” Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and numerous paintings by Claude Monet.
Here are a few Art Institute stops that shouldn’t go missed:
- The Institute’s Modern Wing, which opened in 2009. This 264,000-square foot building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, houses the museum’s world-renowned collections of modern painting and sculpture, and is the second-largest museum space in the country.
- Located in the Modern Wing, Terzo Piano is a must-stop for lunch, Sunday brunch and Thursday dinner. It features the signature cuisine of acclaimed Chicago chef Tony Mantuano, who has been delighting the city’s dwellers and visitors for years at the four-star Italian restaurant, Spiaggia.
- Thorne Minature Rooms, 68 room replicas that enable visitors to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th the 17th one-inch to one-foot. Envisioned by Mrs. James Ward Thorne and constructed by master craftsmen, the rooms were completed between 1932 and 1940.
- The building itself is a Chicago landmark and its broad front steps, a favorite meeting place, are flanked by two large bronze lions, which get dressed up for holidays and other special occasions.Art Institute of Chicago
General admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. and always free for children under the age of 14. For more information on museum hours and ticket prices click here.
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