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“How Could I Not Give the Art Institute 5 Stars?”

The Art Institute of Chicago
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Art Institute of Chicago Fast Pass Admission
Ranked #1 of 642 things to do in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: See why the Art Institute of Chicago is the only museum in the world to be top-ranked by TripAdvisor four years in a row! Experience the greatest Impressionist collection outside Paris, and view contemporary masterpieces in the spectacular Modern Wing. Stand before classics like Nighthawks, and travel the globe through galleries devoted to the art of ancient Greece, Japan, Africa, and the Americas.
Useful Information: Lockers / storage, Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Baby buggy parking, Food available for purchase, Stairs / lift, Bathroom facilities
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89 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
“How Could I Not Give the Art Institute 5 Stars?”
Reviewed 4 January 2013

This is an amazing place, and even if you aren't an art lover and don't know much about art (Me!), you will almost certainly have a pleasant day here. It is awesome to finally see a work of art with your own eyes that you have previously only seen in books - American Gothic, Nighthawks, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte... the list goes on and on.

My favorite piece is Ivan Albright's "The Door" (That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do). I visit it every time I go to the AI, and am always affected by it. Check it out.

My favorite work in the Modern WIng is Charles Ray's "Hinoki", but for different reasons. The artist was driving along the California coast when he discovered a beautiful fallen tree. The decaying tree fit perfectly into the meadow where it lay. So... he enlisted some friends with chainsaws, and they cut the tree into pieces and took it back to his studio in LA! Desiring to make a wood carving of the tree, he took molds which were sent to Japan so that woodcarvers could re-create his vision in Japanese cypress. The artist came to realize that his artwork, like the original tree, will one day rot and decay. This piece provokes a lot of thought (along with a smile!)

I don't "get" the art films that are shown, but I love to walk through the dark galleries, and perhaps rest my feet and try to figure out what is being shown on the screen. It reminds me of walking through a haunted house, especially since most of the films are really creepy.

Finally, a few tips. 1) There are some free days, but you may wish to call the AI to confirm. We went on the first Wednesday of the month, which according to the website is a free day for Illinois residents. The apologetic man at the ticket booth explained that there was a lot of mis-information on the website, so we ended up paying for the visit. 2)There are two entrances, the main entrance on Michigan Avenue (get your photo taken with the lions!) and the Modern WIng entrance. You may not have to wait as long if you enter via the Modern Wing on Monroe. We used the main entrance the other day, and had a long wait in the cold, even though it was after 11 a.m. when we arrived. At least a Streetwise vendor was there to amuse the crowd with a few jokes. 3) Take one of the short guided tours. On our last two visits, we have joined the free tours and learned a little something or visited a gallery that we didn't know about. Ask about the daily tours at the information desk. 4) Plan out your visit in advance, so you don't miss something that you will regret not seeing. I am kicking myself right now for not seeing the Thorne miniature rooms on our recent visit. 5) Seriously consider eating at Terzo Piano, located in the Modern Wing. It is expensive, but the food is amazing, the views are spectacular, and you won't have to exit the museum to get there. We have reserved through OpenTable and have gotten window seats with views of the Crown Fountain. 6) Grab a map; the layout of the AI can be a little confusing. 7) Make sure to visit the gift shop. It is always wall-to-wall people, but it is fun to look around. If you see a piece of art that you love, stop by the gift shop and buy a postcard for only $1.25 and put it on your refrigerator or send it to a friend. How about Day of the Dead or Mary Cassatt tattoos for $1.50, or Modigliani stickers? There are a lot of reasonably priced non-tacky souvenirs here.

Visited January 2013
1 Thank IlliniTrav
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Houston, TX
Level Contributor
31 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Overwhelmingly Large”
Reviewed 4 January 2013

I love art museums and have been to this one twice. It is overwhelmingly large and there are many classic pieces to see here. I can only think of a few museums that I've been to in the US that were larger - probably just the Met in NYC. There are three floors and numerous single gallery rooms that are a little harder to find. The museum has a little bit of everything.

I would recommend if traveling to break it up maybe in to two parts. The museum allows unlimited in/out privilege with your ticket. The next time I come, I would see half of the museum, get lunch and them come back later to tackle the other half.

I saw several families here. I would recommend if coming with a family doing some research ahead of time and making an itinerary. There were lots of cranky elementary school kids overwhelmed with the 2+ hour visit.

Visited December 2012
Thank fallingleaf21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
153 reviews
60 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“Great girls day out!”
Reviewed 4 January 2013

Six of us visited on a Thursday in late December. The crowds were hideous compared to a visit I took in October. But, the art work is stunning! The volume of masterpieces all under one roof is stunning. The miniature rooms on the lower level are gorgeous. I also enjoyed the modern wing. It was far less crowded. The Steve McQueen was not worth my time. But I don't favor video as a medium. Theme useful was warm, so dress in layers. If you are traveling with a family, choose a less busy time.

Visited December 2012
Thank SmokeyBlueTulle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dog Town, RI
Level Contributor
3 reviews
“Fascinating, affordable.”
Reviewed 4 January 2013

The entire time there - awesome. Interesting, educational, many artists works to view and enjoy. Would go back and see the artists I didn't get to view on first trip.

Visited October 2012
Thank Marcia O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pasadena, CA
Level Contributor
55 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“A Must-See in Chicago”
Reviewed 3 January 2013

The permanent collections are just so impressive and set in a lovely, historic building. We were lucky enough to see the Lichtenstein exhibit just before it left. Don't miss the miniatures!

Visited August 2012
Thank PasadenaBunch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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