Facts About the Art Institute in Chicago

Chicago Art institute lionIf you are headed to Chicago – don’t miss the Art Institute.  Located off of Michigan Avenue on the edge of Millennium Park, the Classical Renaissance structure is easy to find with its signature green bronze lion statues that guard the entrance.

Fun Fact: These lions (which are not identical) have names!  The artist, Edward Kemeys, unofficially named the north lion “on the prowl” and the south lion is called “stands in an attitude of defiance”.

Once you enter the museum, prepare yourself for nearly 300,000 works of art ranging from Ancient and Byzantine art the expanded Modern Art wing. The Art Institute has the second largest collection of impressionist art in the world, thanks to Bertha Palmer (Palmer House blog post) who bequeathed her personal collection to the city. You could easily spend an entire day roaming the halls, indulging at the Museum Cafe, being a sketch artist, and enjoying the museum’s tours, including their self-guided tours available for download.

Must See Art

Self Portrait, 1887 by Vincent Van Gogh (French).

Self Portrait, 1887 by Vincent Van Gogh (French)

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884 by Georges Seurat (French)

American Gothic, 1930 by Grant Wood (American)

Nighthawks, 1942 by Edward Hopper (American)

Nighthawks, 1942 by Edward Hopper (American)

Water Lilies, 1903 by Claude Monet (French)

Saint Martin and the Beggar, 1597 by El Greco (Spanish)

Saint Martin and the Beggar, 1597 by El Greco (Spanish)


Some of tour guide Mel’s personal favorite “secret” treasures in the Art Institute

      • The Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room: Reconstruction at the Art Institute of Chicago by Louis Sullivan.  This room was originally built in 1893, was demolished in 1972, and reconstructed at the Art Institute in 1976.
      • There are small replicas of the famous Chicago Public sculptures including: The Flamingo by Alexander Calder, an untitled piece by Picasso, and Jean Dubuffet’s Monument with Standing Beast.
      • In the new Modern Wing, check out the restaurant Terzo Piano for local, organic Italian dishes.  If the weather is nice, grab a seat on the patio for an amazing view.
Chicago Art Institute lions Yonzon photography small

Lions in front of Chicago Art Institute. Photo by Yonzon Photography


Museum Hours and Admission

      • Open daily 10:30am-5:00pm and Thursdays until 8:00pm
      • The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
      • Check out Admission Costs here.
      • Pro Tip:  Admission is FREE for children under 14 years old.  Admission is FREE for Illinois educators.  Admission is FREE for Illinois residents on Thursdays between 5:00pm-8:00pm.

+++ Our popular pay-what-you-wish Loop and Millennium Park tour passes by the Art Institute as well.+++

written by Mel Yonzon