Art Institute of Chicago#7 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
Home to one of the country's most impressive collections of impressionist and post-impressionist art (plus works from numerous other genres), the expansive Art Institute of Chicago features more than 300,000 works from all over the world in its permanent collection. You'll find pieces created in the Byzantine era, as well as paintings done just a few decades ago. The Art Institute's exhibits also include all sorts of intriguing artifacts, from European armor to the Thorne Miniature Rooms, which showcase interior design and furnishings in Europe and America from the late 13th to early 20th centuries. In addition to the permanent collection, the Art Institute hosts traveling exhibitions covering a variety of subjects and showcasing a diverse array of artists and genres.
The Art Institute of Chicago earns high praise from recent visitors, thanks in part to its impressive collection. Art enthusiasts particularly commend the museum's impressionist collection, which features pieces from famous artists like van Gogh, Monet and Renoir.
The Art Institute of Chicago sits just south of Millennium Park and next to Grant Park in downtown Chicago. The property is easily accessible via the Adams/Wabash, Monroe and Jackson L stations, or travelers can take one of several buses to a nearby bus stop. Driving to the Art Institute is not recommended due to the limited number of parking options available within walking distance. The museum is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Thursdays, the museum stays open until 8 p.m. General admission – which includes entry to special exhibitions, participation in guided tours and access to restrooms, several eateries and a gift shop – is $25 for adults and $19 for seniors and children between 14 and 17. If you have a Go Chicago Card or a CityPASS, admission into the museum is included with your pass. Learn more about the Art Institute of Chicago's exhibits, special events and facilities by visiting the property's website.
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#1 Millennium Park
A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.
There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.
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