Chicago is home to some of the most spectacular and top art museums in the world. They cover many interesting features belonging to the subject of arts, science, history, astronomy, and nature. Apart from being a major annual tourist attraction, most of these museums are free to anyone. In this article, we explore the top 7 art museums that you need to visit in Chicago.
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world's great art museums, housing a collection that spans centuries and the globe. You view incredible and invaluable masterpieces, including the famous "Self Portrait" by Van Gogh and "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" created by Georges-Pierre Seurat. This particular museum is considered to be the second-largest museum in the US, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With the growth of their impressive collection the museum has made several additions to the original 1893 building, increasing their footprint to nearly one million square feet
The Art Institute of Chicago offers kids, and the entire family for that matter, the opportunity to create art, picture books, things to build with, and interact with their new JourneyMaker, which empowers you to create a customized family adventure in the museum. You can also enjoy a few other family-focused programs suited for all ages that cover a variety of topics that are centered around different yearly festivals.
The museum also has 68 miniature rooms that provide visitors with an opportunity to find out what European furnishings and interiors from the 13th century onward up to the 1930s, and the American furnishings from the 17th century up to the 1930s, looked like respectively. Moreover, these miniature rooms are decorated throughout the year according the current holiday or season Chicago is going through.
Last but not least, the Art Institute of Chicago is home to a large collection of medieval European artwork which is more than 500 years old and includes armor and weapons of that era on display. One of these incredible pieces, a horse and its rider, is located at the entrance.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the largest contemporary museums in, not only the US, but the world as well. The museum offers more than a large collection of Contemporary Art; a theatre, a restaurant, a few exhibits and a sculpture garden. Everyone who visits the Museum of Contemporary Art, will enjoy the arts arena where there are works of minimalism, conceptual photography, surrealism, as well as local Chicago artistry on display. Some of the work on display include that of Jeff Koons, Chuck Close, Magritte and many other contemporary art capitals.
The admission is free here. You can experience the gallery tours and performances, open-studio sessions, and so forth without paying anything at all as part of the monthly Family Days held by the museum (click on link to view schedule). Local artists transform the museum into themes that are designed to entertain kids that visit. Parents and Guardians are also welcome to partake in the activities and enjoy the artwork on display.
Amongst other notable things to see in this museum are the works of Ellen Berkenblit, local artist based in New York, who will be exhibiting her work at the museum in November. Her work has received multiple awards and been displayed across the globe.
Before being transformed into an art center that contains the works of innovative modern artists, the Hyde Park Art Center was once a defunct saloon. Many new, as well as experienced artists, are able to showcase their talent at the Hyde Park Art Center whom also offers an innovative residency program to the artists. As a tourist, admission is absolutely free with plenty of educational opportunities for young artists on offer.
The museum provides a selection of art classes for the younger generation. The classes offer young artists the opportunity to learn from the best and cover a variety of techniques from painting and ceramics to darkroom photography. Every year the museum hosts a Creativity Summer Camp where these young budding artists get unparalleled access to Chicago’s creative community in a fun, relaxed environment–perfect for summer!
The Smart Museum of Art is owned and managed by the University of Chicago. Although compact in size, it offers fantastic artworks with rotating as well as permanent exhibits. The art collection on display usually vary in terms of age (historic to modern), regions (Old Master European to Asian) and style (Contemporary to modern)
An exciting offering hosted by the museum every month is the Family Day. Each day has a different them and projects that the family can work together. The museum usually provides all the supplies that you can think of that you would need to create your unique art piece, all you need to do is showcase your creativeness.
When you are at the Smart Museum of Art, you need to visit the Sculpture Garden, which is located between the Art History buildings and the Smart Museum. It is a small sculpture garden packed with modern sculptures by European and American artists including the works of Jene Highstein, Arnaldo Pomodoro Scott Burton, and Richard Hunt.
Admission is also free to anyone who visits.
Before the Chicago Cultural Center was transformed in 1991 into what it is known today, it was the main citadel of the Chicago Public Library. It is now reputed for hosting free exhibitions which features the works by famous international and local artists. As part of the many displays on view at the Center, you can admire the largest Tiffany glass dome on the planet. The magnificent translucent dome, 38 feet in diameter and made of Tiffany Favrile glass, is cut in the shape of fish scales with Zodiac signs at the top of the dome.
DePaul Art Museum, founded in 2011, is only stone throw away from the Lincoln Park Train station and located on the campus of the DePaul University. It features an incredible art collection of over 3000 objects, including works by local and regional artists, Latin American and North American photography, WPA-era prints, traditional and contemporary West African objects, and Eastern European graphic arts, in a 15,000 square-foot building.
The museum is free to visit and open to the public.
The Renaissance Society is a completely independent contemporary art institution also based at the University of Chicago. Typically presenting four exhibitions each year, the kunsthalle-style museum focuses on the production and commissioning of new work from international artists. It also hosts performances, concerts, readings, lectures and screenings, which are open to the public and free. They also often produce publications in conjunction with many of its exhibitions.
For more information about our memberships and offerings, click here