As I have shared in a few posts, I really love impressionist art, and Monet is my favorite. I really enjoyed the Muse de Orsay in Paris. So while we were in Chicago in June of 2016, one of the top 5 things I had to do was to explore the Art Institute Chicago. I had been to Chicago a few years ago, but all the impressionist art was on loan to a museum in Texas. I was disappointed but knew I’d be back and be able to see their collection.
Walking up the museum, the first two things I noticed was the amazing architecture of the building itself, as well as the two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance. They were made for the Art Institute’s opening at its current location on December 8, 1893, and were a gift from Mrs. Henry Field. They have unofficial “names,” given to them by their sculptor, Edward Kemeys, that are more like designations.
The lions are not identical and thus are named for their poses: The south lion stands “In an Attitude of Defiance,” while the north lion is “On the Prowl.” They were really cool and reminded me of the lion’s named Patience and Fortitude at the Stephen A. Schwarzman New York Public Library in New York.
Once inside, we bought the combo ticket which also allowed us to visit the Sears Tower later that afternoon, yay! Anyway, we made our way to the entrance and grabbed a couple of maps, which we definitely needed as The Art Institute Chicago offers almost a million square feet to explore! It is 3 floors and huge. Definitely need a plan on what you want to see. On the back of the map was a list of some of the highlights of the museum and things you didn’t want to miss. They even have it broken down depending on how many hours you had. I thought that was brilliant and very helpful.
I wanted to start with Impressionist art which was in a section they called European Art before 1900. Once we found our way there, we wandered through several sections of art by my favorite Claude Monet, as well as Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Eugène-Louis Boudin, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Édouard Manet, as well as many others.
I was in heaven and awed every time we stepped into another room. There we so many to see, I couldn’t even name my favorites. However, they did have a lot of Monet’s from his house in Giverny and a few haystacks. Always cool to see.
We also spent some time in their Contemporary Art section. It was quite interesting and they had a lot of Andy Warhol who I really like too. Besides Worhol they had some by Gerhard Richter, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Prince, and many others. Another artist I really liked in this section was a couple of pieces by Jackson Pollock. They have quite a few allegedly, but I was only able to find two. Maybe they were on loan somewhere. Either way, we enjoyed this section too.
There was so much to see and do at the Art Institute Chicago that we didn’t have as much time to see all that we wanted to, but we hit the highlights. A piece of art that Gene and I had both wanted to see was the American Gothic painting by Grant Wood. As it turned out they were having an exhibit called America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s. It was in a special area, but lucky our tickets allowed us a one-time entry into the exhibit. The exhibit was quite interesting and they even had Georgia O’Keeffe’s Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue. It was great to see some of these amazing pieces.
We had a great time exploring the Art Institute Chicago and I was awed at all the amazing art collections (not just the impressionist art). The only thing I wasn’t impressed with was how they treated us as they were closing. About 20-30 minutes before they closed they started shooing us out and even locked the bathrooms. We were told that they would be open on the main floor by the gift shop, but they weren’t. Very frustrating as there aren’t a lot of public restrooms in downtown Chicago. 🙁
They were as nice as can be while they were open, but as soon as they were getting ready to close, they were like OUT, OUT, OUT. I left feeling very disappointed and upset. I think they should treat their paying guests with a little more respect, but that’s just me. Who am I? lol Still it was a great museum and I would love to explore more on a future trip to Chicago. Definitely make sure the Art institute Chicago is on your list. Here is a link to their website with the most updated information.
Art Institute Chicago Visitor Information
111 South Michigan Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60603
Hours: Members Public
|Monday||10–11 a.m.||11 a.m.–6 p.m.|
|Thursday–Friday||12–1 p.m.||1–8 p.m.|
|Saturday–Sunday||10–11 a.m.||11 a.m.–6 p.m.|
Seniors (65+) $19
Teems (14-17) $19
Seniors (65+) $14
Teems (14-17) Free
Seniors (65+) $16
Teems (14-17) $16
Fast Pass – Bypass General Admission Lines
Seniors (65+) $29
Teems (14-17) $29
Indiana toll road (90) to Chicago Skyway to Dan Ryan Expressway (90, 94) to Congress East (Loop exit). East on Congress to Congress Plaza (first light east of Michigan Avenue.) North (left turn) on Congress Plaza, which merges with Michigan Avenue. North on Michigan Avenue to Adams.
From South Suburbs
Dan Ryan Expressway (90, 94) to Congress East (Loop exit). East to Congress Plaza (first light east of Michigan Avenue). North (left turn) on Congress Plaza which merges with Michigan Avenue. North on Michigan Avenue to Adams.
From Wisconsin and North Suburbs
Edens Expressway (94) into Kennedy Expressway (90, 94) to Loop, exit Monroe Street east. East to Michigan Avenue.
From O’Hare Airport and Northwest Suburbs
Kennedy Expressway (90) to Loop, exit Monroe Street east. East to Michigan Avenue.
From West Suburbs
Eisenhower Expressway (290) east (290 becomes Congress Parkway in Loop) to Congress Plaza (first light east of Michigan Avenue). North (left turn) on Congress Plaza which merges with Michigan Avenue to Adams.
From Southwest Suburbs
Stevenson Expressway (55) to Lake Shore Drive (41). North to Jackson Blvd. West on Jackson (left turn) to Michigan Ave. North on Michigan to Adams.
$28 per car (payment upon drop-off; cash only)*
Modern Wing entrance at 159 East Monroe Street
*Rates are subject to change with citywide special events.
You can also park at one of the many public garages.
The Art Institute is located just one block east of the Loop and is easily accessible via the city’s “L” train system. The Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, and Purple lines all stop above ground at Adams/Wabash, one block west of the museum. The Red and Blue lines stop underground at Monroe, just a few blocks away. A number of bus lines also stop in front of the museum. Currently, the “L” fare is $2.50 per adult. Visit the Chicago Transit Authority website for route, schedule, and fare details.
Metra is Chicago’s commuter rail transit system. The Art Institute is accessible from both the Van Buren and Millennium stations, which are underground just one to two blocks south and north (respectively) along Michigan Avenue. Visit the Metra website for route, schedule, and fare details.
Divvy Bike Program
Divvy is Chicago’s bike-sharing system. It offers thousands of bikes and hundreds of stations across the city, providing Chicagoans and visitors with an additional transportation option. There are several Divvy bike stations within walking distance of the Art Institute. For more information and pricing, visit divvybikes.com.
Manually operated wheelchairs are available free of charge at both of the museum’s checkrooms on a first-come, first-served basis—no reservation required. Personal wheelchairs are always welcome.
Elevators are located throughout the museum for access to all levels. A TDD/TYY–equipped phone is available for use in the Michigan Avenue lobby. All auditoriums are equipped with designated wheelchair areas.
The following garage spaces offer accessible parking near the Art Institute. Please note that they do not accept oversized vans.
- Millennium Park Garage (enter at Columbus Drive and Monroe Street), with 6’ 8” clearance in some sections and an elevator at the exit
- East Monroe Street Garage (enter at Columbus Drive and Monroe Street), with 6’ 8” clearance and exit ramps at Monroe Street
- Grant Park North Garage (enter at Michigan Avenue between Madison and Randolph), with 6’ 6” clearance for vans and an elevator at the exit
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