Museum Guide: Art Institute of Chicago

Housing the best permanent impressionist collection in the world outside of France, the Art Institute of Chicago’s 260,000 works of art ranging from early Egyptian to modern American make it a truly diverse and wonderful museum to explore.


Founded in the late 1800s by a group of Chicagoans determined to bring culture and art education to the windy city, the institute has grown to be a global collection of expression that draws visitors from around the world. The Institute is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s Grant Park, and is an easy walk from the theatre district and the central loop. The current building (with the famous lion sculptures by Edward Kemeys flanking the west entrance) was originally the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition house. The modern wing (where most of our photos were taken) was added on and opened in 2009.



Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, acts as the breathtaking welcoming committee to the impressionist gallery in the Institute (our favorite). Over 30 of Monet’s works, including a number of his Water Lily and Haystack pieces are housed here, not to mention other notables such as Vincent van Gogh’s  Self-portrait, and Paul Cézanne’s The Basket of Apples,and Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair.


Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Cross, and New Mexico, and one of the most iconic pieces of American art, American Gothic, by Grant Wood can be found in the Institute’s permanent American collection. Other notables include Winslow Homer’s  The Herring Net, several pieces of Frank Lloyd Wright’s furniture in the decorative arts gallery, and James McNeill Whistler pieces.


The modern wing’s clean white walls and no shortage of natural light make it a spot to really linger in. Picasso’s Old Guitarist, Matisse’s Bathers by a River, and Brâncusi’s Golden Bird are just a few of the wonderful pieces in the permanent collection.

Art Institute Website