Chicago's Art

There are a lot of reasons to love Chicago – from the cheesy, mouthwatering deep dish pizza to the world-famous comedy scene to the impressive towering skyscrapers.

However, another reason to fall in love with the Windy City is the spectacular art scene. If you’re an art and culture nerd, you’ll get a tingle when you hear that this city is home to nearly 200 art galleries. You can spend days on end gazing at thought-provoking artwork both old and new.

Read on for a guide to experiencing Chicago’s art scene for the first time.

Top Art Galleries

Of course, with 200 art galleries in the city you have lots to choose from. But, if you’re wondering where to start, here are a few of the best options:

  • The Art Institute of Chicago: Remember the art museum that Ferris, Cameron and Sloane visit in the classic 80s film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? You can recreate that scene yourself as you wander the halls of the beautiful Art Institute of Chicago. This excellent gallery features works by some of the greats, including Kandinsky, Seurat, Hopper, Picasso, Pollock, Modigliani and Cassat. (111 S Michigan Ave)
  • National Museum of Mexican Art: This impressive museum has one of the biggest collections of Mexican art in the country, with over 10,000 works. The sculptures, paintings, photographs and textiles tell a rich story of Mexican culture and history. (1852 W 19th Street)
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art: If you’re looking to check out some cutting-edge pieces that will provoke a conversation about social, cultural and political issues – this museum is a great place to explore. (220 E Chicago Ave)
  • Intuit – The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art: Intuit is a very interesting gallery – one that showcases the work of self-taught “outsider” artists who aren’t influenced by the mainstream art world. The collections are filled with unique and fascinating examples of non-traditional folk art, visionary art and much more. (756 N Milwaukee Ave)
  • DePaul Art Museum: This museum is associated with the art department at DePaul University. Therefore, a visit here is a great way to see the work of the next generation of Chicago artists as they begin their careers. (935 W Fullerton Ave)

Handy Tips for Art Lovers in Chicago

  • When it comes to choosing a place to stay, look for the most centrally located vacation rentals downtown Chicago has to offer. You’ll be right in the heart of the city and won’t have to waste precious time commuting in from the suburbs.
  • Look out for gallery nights and open studio tours. These are a great opportunity to see new exhibitions, meet gallery owners and artists and connect with other art lovers.
  • If you’re traveling on a budget, many art galleries offer free admission – such as the DePaul Art Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center and the Renaissance Society.
  • Also, even the museums that aren’t usually free will offer free admission on certain days. Here is a guide to the free museum days in Chicago in 2019.
  • Last but not least – wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be covering a lot of ground as you explore these enormous galleries.