Art Institute of Chicago

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Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago building photo

Pinotgris at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Era 1893
Known Names
Influencers Mrs. Henry Field
Martin A. Ryerson
Bertha Honor Palmer
Helen Birch Bartlett

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The world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago is one of the leading fine art institutions in the United States. The sprawling space is the home to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Art Institute of Chicago

Founded as a museum and school in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago has been located at its present location since 1893. The two original bronze lions still watch over the front door to the museum. The original building was built for the World’s Columbian Exposition at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. It was also the site of the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, where Hindu Swami Vivakananda gave his now-famous “Brothers and sisters of America” speech. The museum and school both experienced growth in the 1900s. In 1901, the research library was added, and it remains one of the most respected art libraries in the world. Since then, eight major expansions have occurred, with the Modern Wing’s construction in 2009 being the most recent. The museum is the home to almost 300,000 permanent works of art. The collection spans the globe, from Chinese bronzes and installation art to textiles and contemporary designs. The Modern Wing houses art from this and the previous century, and the museum’s catalog continues to expand. Works by artists such as Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet are part of the museum’s permanent collection. The museum received its first major gift, a collection of French paintings, from Mrs. Henry Field. In 1913, the museum hosted the Armory Show, an exhibition of European avant-garde art. The purchases made during the exhibition would be the start of the museum’s modern art collection. The Morton Wing was built in 1962 to house these works. In the 1980s, the museum added the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice building. It is the home to exhibition space and the American art collection. The 1990s saw the inclusion of Asian and European art, and the Ryerson Library received a complete renovation. The museum now also has universal access to all its floors, with the renovation of the ramp outside the building as well as the construction of an interior elevator.


Fun Facts

  • The Louis Sullivan Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room was reconstructed at the museum when its original home was demolished.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago was originally named the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. The name was changed in 1882.
  • The entire institute takes up nearly one million square feet.

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Examples of Artwork in the Art Institute of Chicago

Paris Street; Rainy Day 1877 artwork by Gustave Caillebotte

Paris Street; Rainy Day 1877

The Drinkers 1890 artwork by Vincent van Gogh

The Drinkers 1890

The Basket of Apples c. 1893 artwork by Paul Cézanne

The Basket of Apples c. 1893