The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 and located in Chicago‘s Grant Park, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Recognized for its curatorial efforts and popularity among visitors, the museum hosts approximately 1.5 million guests annually. Its collection—stewarded by 11 curatorial departments—is encyclopedic, and includes iconic works such as Georges Seurat‘s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, Pablo Picasso‘s The Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper‘s Nighthawks, and Grant Wood‘s American Gothic. Its permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art is augmented by more than 30 special exhibitions mounted yearly that illuminate aspects of the collection and present cutting-edge curatorial and scientific research.
The Art Institute’s American Art collection contains some of the best-known works in the American canon, including Edward Hopper‘s Nighthawks, Grant Wood‘s American Gothic, and Mary Cassatt‘s The Child’s Bath. The collection ranges from colonial silver to modern and contemporary paintings.
Nighthawks was originally purchased by the museum in 1942 for $3,000; its acquisition “launched” the painting into “immense popular recognition.” Considered an “icon of American culture”, Nighthawks is perhaps Hopper’s most famous painting, as well as one of the most recognizable images in American art. American Gothic has been in the museum’s collection since 1930 and was only just recently loaned outside of North America for the first time in 2016. Wood’s painting depicts what has been called “the most famous couple in the world,” a dour, rural-American, father and daughter. It was entered into a contest at the Art Institute in 1930, and although not a favorite of some, it won a medal and was acquired by the museum.
As a research institution, the Art Institute also has a conservation and conservation science department, five conservation laboratories, and one of the largest art history and architecture libraries in the country—the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.
The growth of the collection has warranted several additions to the museum’s original 1893 building, which was constructed for the World’s Columbian Exposition of the same year. The most recent expansion, the Modern Wing designed by Renzo Piano, opened in 2009 and increased the museum’s footprint to nearly one million square feet, making it the second-largest art museum in the United States, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Art Institute is connected to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a leading art school, making it one of the few remaining unified arts institutions in the United States.
The Art Institute and the Modern Wing is the perfect first stop attraction in Chicago. A pair of Edward Kemeys‘ bronze “Majestic Lions” (1893) welcome you to the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago.
In 2006, the Art Institute began construction of “The Modern Wing”, an addition situated on the southwest corner of Columbus and Monroe. The project, designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano, was completed and officially opened to the public on May 16, 2009. The 264,000-square-foot (24,500 m2) building makes the Art Institute the second-largest art museum in the United States. The building houses the museum’s world-renowned collections of 20th- and 21st-century art, specifically modern European painting and sculpture, contemporary art, architecture and design, and photography. In 2014, travel review website and forum, Tripadvisor, reviewed millions of travelers’ surveys and named the Art Institute the world’s best museum. It has remained a top three museum through 2016.
In April 2015, it was announced that the museum received perhaps the largest gift of art in its history. Collectors Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson donated a “collection [that] is among the world’s greatest groups of postwar Pop art ever assembled.” The donation includes works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Jeff Koons, Charles Ray, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Roy Lichtenstein and Gerhard Richter. The museum agreed to keep the donated work on display for at least 50 years.
The one million square foot facility is the second largest art museum in the United States. The largest is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The Art Institute of Chicago is a museum and is associated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It is located across from Millennium Park at 111 South Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District.
My favorite exhibits include the “Impressionism” in rooms: 225-226, 201, and 240-243. I also love the Chagall America Windows in Gallery 144. Make time to have lunch at Terzo Piano in the Modern Wing of the museum when you visit Chicago. The restaurant is headed ny award-winning chef Tony Mantuano. The Museum also has a number of interesting shops on the premises.
The Art Institute has one of the world’s most notable collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in its permanent collection. The museum has over 300,000 pieces, including Bertha Palmer‘s own collection.
Bertha Honoré married the Chicago millionaire Potter Palmer in 1871 when she was 21 and he was 44. Palmer was a Quaker merchant who came to Chicago after failing twice in business. In Chicago he opened a store and eventually sold it to a consortium and it would eventually become Marshall Field’s.
Palmer then opened the Palmer House, a luxury hotel in Chicago. Bertha, rose to the pinnacle of Chicago Society and became involved in the Board of Lady Managers, which Bertha Palmer was selected to lead in 1891.
During the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, a celebration of the discovery of the New World by Columbus, Bertha’s Board of Lady Managers became involved with the selected as the architect for the Women’s Building. as also involved with the interior of the structure. Sophia Hayden was chosen to design and building and the influential designer Candace Wheeler worked on the interior of the structure.
Chicago art curator, Sarah Tyson Hallowell worked with Bertha Palmer on the art exhibits and the murals which were designed by Bennett. The Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt eventually got incolved with the mural project.
The Palmers were enthusiastic art collectors and depended curator Sarah Hallowell for advice. She introduced the Palmers to the painters in Paris and they began to collect French Impressionist works. The Palmer’s collection of Impressionist paintings expanded rapidly and they owned twenty-nine Monets and eleven Renoirs. These works form the core of the Art Institute of Chicago‘s Impressionist collection.
Marc Chagall was a Russian-French artist associated with several major artistic styles. I love his stained glass compostitions. He produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the JerusalemWindows in Israel.
The Bible illustrations by Chagall
- Pick Terzo Piano for Lunch at the Art Institute for Chicago Restaurant Week 2012 (vinoconvistablog.me)