Illinois Museums and Galleries
Art Institute Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave., The Loop
Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is hands down one of the city’s oldest treasures. The permanent collection is 300,000-strong, boasting such American classics as Grant Wood's American Gothic and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s worth a visit just to see the recently opened, Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing. Piano is famous for his lighting, and the shelter above the space (which allows some daylight to sift into the galleries) is one of the best examples of his work to date.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave., Magnificent Mile
Housed in a Josef Paul Kleihues-designed building in the heart of the city, MCA Chicago is one of the best contemporary art museums in the world. Last year they broke attendance records as the only US museum to host the David Bowie Is exhibition, and their original programming is just as impressive. This year, they’ve organized the US debut and first retrospective of Columbian sculptor Doris Salcedo as well as a major survey of American painter Kerry James Marshall (which they co-organized with the Met and LA MoCA). We also love MCA for its manageable size—you can easily traverse the major galleries in a single afternoon.
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