The Art Institute of Chicago holds nearly 300,000 works of art in eight buildings, encompassing nearly one million square feet (93,000 square meters) of gallery space. It’s best known for its collection of modern European and American paintings and sculptures, including works by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Mary Cassatt. There’s also Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, pieces from across Asia, and edgy contemporary installations. You’ll need a comfortable pair of shoes as you can spend from a few hours to a few days here.
The Museum lies on the eastern border of downtown Chicago, a block from Lake Michigan. It was founded as a museum and fine arts school in 1879. It settled in its current location in 1893 and the original building, with two famous bronze lion statues on either side of the entrance, remains.
Don’t try to attempt the Museum without a map. You’ll find one at the entrance. There are also audio guides, and Apps for smartphones that have floor plans and detailed stories about some of the artworks.
The European artworks and sculptures here are famous. You’ll likely recognize many of them, such as Two Sisters by Renoir and Water Lilies by Monet. They start on the second floor just above the main Michigan Avenue entrance.
The American art collection spans two floors. Mary Cassatt’s, The Child’s Bath, a favorite among visitors, and other highlights include paintings by James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Head to the second floor to view pieces from 1900 to1950, include Edward Hopper’s renowned painting Nighthawks which eerily depicts a New York restaurant late at night.
Explore other mediums of art in rooms about architecture and design, galleries for photography, a sculpture garden and half a floor dedicated to Asian, African and Native American art. Visit the gallery's official website before your visit to check for any upcoming special exhibitions.
Take a break at one of four eateries. The Museum Café has everything from sandwiches to pizzas, while Caffe Moderno serves up quick snacks like paninis and salads. There are two formal dining options: Terzo Piano (Italian) and McKinlock Court Restaurant (modern American).