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Home to almost 300,000 artworks spread across nearly 93,000 square metres of gallery space, the Art Institute of Chicago is a world-famous attraction for art lovers. To the east of downtown Chicago and just a block away from Lake Michigan, the gallery dates back to 1879 when it opened as a museum and school of fine arts. It wasn’t until 1893 that the institute moved to its present location, where you can still find the original building with its two bronze lion statues standing guard by the entrance.
With paintings and sculptures by European and American artists such as Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Mary Cassatt, it has gained a strong worldwide reputation for modern art. Renoir’s Two Sisters and Monet’s Water Lilies are among the most immediately recognisable paintings in the world, and you’ll see these among the pieces lining the walls.
You can explore two floors of American art, including paintings by James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent; Mary Cassatt’s The Child’s Bath is especially popular with visitors. On the second floor meanwhile, you can find Edward Hopper’s famously haunting work Nighthawks on display among the pieces from 1900 to 1950.
As well as these more modern works, the museum is home to Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, works from Asia, as well as eye-catching contemporary installations that are well worth a look. You’ll also find photography galleries, a sculpture garden, and space dedicated to African and Native American art. It’s worth checking the official website for upcoming one-off exhibitions before you go and visit.
If all of that art appreciation leaves you hungry, there are four eateries at the museum to choose from: the Museum Café offers sandwiches and pizzas while Caffe Moderno serves other quick snacks. An Italian and a modern American restaurant also offer more dining options for a good meal.
Before you start wandering off in any direction, it’s best to pick up a museum map from the entrance. Audio guides are also available, as is a smartphone app that provides floor plans and more insights into some of the pieces you’ll see.
Ensure you have lots of time at Art Institute of Chicago. Here are some of the best activities:
Your next thrilling adventure is right here! You may want to try out an Art Institute of Chicago or a Small-Group Unconventional Guided Tour of the Art Institute of Chicago.
For more activities, examine our Chicago things to do page.
This 1925 Beaux Arts-style Chicago hotel is steps from Millennium Park, 2 blocks from Macy's and the Art Institute, and 1 mile from Lake Michigan, Magnificent Mile shopping, and Wrigley Tower.
This Magnificent Mile hotel is located among Chicago's world-class shopping, restaurants and attractions. The Navy Pier, Millennium Park and Art Institute are less than a mile away.
Built in 1893, this downtown Chicago hotel offers a convenient location across from Grant Park and close to Lake Michigan.
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The Langham, Chicago resides within the 52-story riverfront AMA Plaza that is designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Located along the Chicago River, one block from North Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park, and Chicago's business district are just walking distance away.
Located in River North, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Chinese Consulate, Holy Name Cathedral, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Museum of Contemporary Art and Water Tower Place are also within 15 minutes. Grand Station (Red Line) is only a 2-minute walk and Chicago Station (Red Line) is 7 minutes.