With numerous galleries and art museums displaying all sorts of works, from iconic pieces by famous artists to installations by emerging artists, Chicago is an easy choice for art lovers. If you’re looking to add a bit of art into your weekend in the Windy City, check out our guide to some of the best art museums and galleries in Chicago.
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the biggest and oldest art institutes in the US. Meaning there’s plenty to see from some of the biggest names in art. That includes European masters like Van Gogh, and American greats like Grant Wood and Edward Hopper (and yes, you can see their respective masterpieces, American Gothic and Nighthawks, here).
Admission: $25 adults, $19 seniors/students, children under 14 free
Opening hours: 10:30am-5pm daily (until 8pm Thu)
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
One of the world’s largest contemporary art museums, the MCA is full of modern and contemporary works. This includes pieces by Arthur Jafa and Kerry James Marshall. Famous artists like Frida Kahlo and Jeff Koons held their earliest exhibitions at the museum, which regularly runs curated exhibitions throughout the year.
Admission: $15 adults, $8 students/teachers/seniors, children under 18 free
Opening hours: 10am-5pm daily (until 9pm Tue & Fri)
Smart Museum of Art
Part of the University of Chicago, the Smart Museum of Art has an impressive collection. This includes works organised by continent – such as Asia and Europe – and works organised by theme – e.g. contemporary art and modern art. The museum also houses a significant collection of works by the 20th century American sculptor and printmaker H.C. Westermann. The museum is located on the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun
National Museum of Mexican Art
The National Museum of Mexican Art is one of the only Chicago museums of art that showcases the art, culture and history of the Latino, Mexican and Chicano communities. Founded in 1982, it now counts some 10,000 pieces in its collections. These range from pre-Hispanic and pre-Colombian objects made by indigenous Mexican groups – including the Maya, Mezcala and Toltec – to folk art, textiles and paintings.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun
Museum of Contemporary Photography
Part of Columbia College Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography contains images by some of America’s greatest photographers. This includes Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. A particular highlight is the Farm Security Administration collection of images, which portray life during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Beyond, there are exhibits that focus on the Windy City itself, including ‘Changing Chicago’, a follow-up to the Farm Security Administration collection documenting Chicago life in the late 1980s.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm Mon-Sat, until 8pm Thu, noon-5pm Sun
Beverly Arts Center
The Beverly Arts Center is a multifaceted space that hosts regular programs on dance, film, theater and music. There is also a gallery space here that presents a rotating and diverse program of visual arts. Past exhibits have included works by local Chicago cartoonists, printmakers, photographers and painters, as well as programs focused on the LGBTQ community.
Opening hours: 9am-9pm Mon-Thu, to 6pm Fri, to 3pm Sat
Corbett vs. Dempsey
One of the premier private art galleries in Chicago, Corbett vs Dempsey has for many years been a pioneer in showcasing midwestern American art. Exhibitions focus on modern and contemporary Chicago paintings, sculpture and prints. The gallery is named for its founders, John Corbett and Jim Dempsey, who met at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm Tue-Sat
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
Intuit is a non-profit gallery showcasing ‘outsider art’. This is a term coined by its founders to describe art created by self-taught artists or those without any formal training. The focus here is on artists who for any number of reasons exist outside of mainstream art. The permanent collection features artists including Minnie Evans, Miles Carpenter, and William Hawkins.
Opening hours: 11am-6pm Tue-Sat, until 7pm Thu, noon-5pm Sun
Hyde Park Art Center
Chicago’s oldest alternative art exhibition space, Hyde Park Art Center focuses on emerging and fringe artists, as well as those from underrepresented communities. And that’s not all. The center also works closely with the local community and supports emerging talent through mentorship programs.
Opening hours: 9am-8pm Mon-Thu, to 5pm Fri-Sat, noon-5pm Sun