Art Institute of Chicago 2021

The 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 Arrival

Since 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.
The neo-renaissance classical (insert other architectural forms here) main staircase at the entrance of the institute

Miniatures and Lower Floor

So, 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.
Like it was designed to be a perfect view Inside the main building, a big huge, unused area of ceiling Gardening and, well, mainly gardening stuff
This book, available at the museum.  This is excellent and better than I can do with my constraints
There is a large alternative media display, covering a lot of counter culture from the 60s through 80s also on the lower floor.
A rather expansive display of the counter culture in USA in various forms, including music videos Made up of thousands of characters with a background color change, this blends well.  Almost like computer impressionism

Main level

Chinese religious representations of demons and more More mythical creatures A fairly large collection of Asian porcelain
"Waterfall", a unique and very calming piece that was made expressly for the museum and this space A range of Hindu mythos and artwork Native American displays - is it art or just functional forms?  I think it's art
Actual Incan gold items, so rare to have existing this long Mayan!  My favorite pre-Columbian culture
Into the Mediterranean, I think most items are real in here but I have doubts on the bracelets And the classical Roman marbles, almost a stereotype at this point, but so many were made and of such quality using just hand tools Colonial American, influenced mightily by the French golden age

2nd Level

Besides 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).
So many Monets, I lost count after 20 Life scenes that start to overwhelm one's emotions as you are inundated with so many of them in one space
Seraut's masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte Here is the main reason I love Impressionism; the landscape from afar looks real, like you could walk into it Yet as you get close, it deconstructs itself and you can see the decisions the artist made to create the experience
So, I have come up with a theory that the medieval times were about nothing but religion and war And I see that's about the sum of it in the collections here But they sure did make some pretty things to kill each other with
The human form and realism are when I start to appreciate the form of painting as it evolved into the 1500s But as we see, religious iconography is still a large mainstay of works being developed
Probably the most important architect for the American Midwest, Frank Lloyd Wright and his very distinctive "Prairie" style

Summary

A 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.
Large availability of art books.  I feel anyone's tastes can find a match in here Wall of mugs - my editor has a problem with coffee mug collecting, and I like to torture her with pictures like this