Art Institute of Chicago 2021The institute is somewhat related to the Chicago Academy of Design school, a free school for artists created in 1866 with a gallery to show works. They ended up charging $10 a month but the success allowed them to grow the gallery into a museum.
The great Chicago Fire wiped the place out, and they went under financially. Many tried to save it but finally realized it was hopeless, started a new art group, and bought everything from the old one at a bankruptcy auction (I'm betting at a significant bargain). This is what became the Art Institute of Chicago, and the first President, Charles L. Hutchinson worked from 1882 to 1924 fairly tirelessly. (His connections and personal wealth had a huge impact on growing the institute into the world class museum it is today).
The ArrivalSince I was staying at the Palmer House, walking 2 blocks from the hotel was effortless. Every major subway line in the city comes by the museum at a reasonable distance of 1, 2 or 4 blocks.
You can buy your ticket online, there is no timed entrance. It's just good for the day, and they open at 11. It's huge. One day is not enough.
Miniatures and Lower FloorSo, an area I have to continue to see on every visit is the Thorne Miniatures room. Views and settings from around the world, based around a collection of antique scale furniture that Narcissa Thorne had acquired. I could take pictures of them all day, but well, they did make a book where they cheated and opened the glass protecting the scenes to eliminate the glare.
2nd LevelBesides the modern wing, the second level is the primary limit of the collections. This level is heavy on the paint medium, and contains my favorite style, Impressionism. They have such an extensive collection, in no small part to Mrs. Palmer (wife of the owner of the Palmer House).
SummaryA world competitor for an art museum. Probably the 3rd best I have been to I think. I appreciate more the classical mediums; some of the modern art is not my thing, so those establishments don't rank as high on my personal list. This place ranks very high.
All of the food venues were closed during my visit, Covid... of course. And I didn't have time to explore the modern wing much. Worth the trip, worth it to a degree of making the trip only for this place. Also a very expansive centrally located shop for artsy things.