Chicago for Art Lovers

Chicagoans have always known we had something special with the Art Institute of Chicago. But when TripAdvisor users voted it the best museum in the world in 2014, we knew that word had gotten out. And we're happy to share. The Art Institute is the starting point of any art-centric exploration of the Windy City. Besides such an obvious top choice, we have a rundown of many other art-related cultural destinations in the city. 

Art Institute of Chicago

Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s major museums, housing an extraordinary collection of objects from across places, cultures, and time.

Museum of Contemporary Art

One of the nation’s largest contemporary art museums, the MCA presents exhibits of painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and performance created since 1945. Tu, F 10 am-9 pm, W-Th, Sa-Su  10 am-5 pm. Suggested admission $15; seniors and students $8; children 18 and under and members of the military free.

Chicago Cultural Center

This national historic landmark is a showplace for the performing, literary and visual arts, featuring a huge variety of programs presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Free guided tours offered W-Sa at 1:15 pm. M-F 10 am-7 pm, Sa-Su 10 am-5 pm; closed holidays. Free.

Hyde Park Art Center

Established in 1939, this South Side institution is one of the oldest exhibition spaces in the city. M-Th 9 am-8 pm, F-Sa 9 am-5 pm, Su noon-5 pm.

Evanston Art Center

Moved in fall 2015 to a renovated 20,000-square-foot mid-century modern former office building, this not-for-profit arts organization offers classes on art education and appreciation, as well as hands-on workshops for budding artists of all ages. M-Th 9 am-10 pm, F 9 am-9 pm, Sa-Su 9 am-4 pm.

Smart Museum of Art

Founded in 1974 on the campus of the University of Chicago, this museum’s collection includes some 15,000 objects, ranging from Chinese Neolithic ceramics to contemporary American paintings. Tu-Su 10 am-5 pm (Th open till 8 pm). Free.

Ed Paschke Art Center

The vibrant, urban, often confrontational work of the late, legendary Chicago artist Ed Paschke (1969-2004) is displayed and celebrated and the source of educational inspiration at this art center. The space includes a gallery as well as educational space and a re-creation of Paschke's studio. Daily 10 am-7 pm.

National Museum of Mexican Art

Located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, this is the nation’s largest (and the Midwest’s only) Mexican cultural center. The ongoing "Nuestras Historias" exhibit offers dynamic and diverse stories of Mexican identity. Tu-Su 10 am-5 pm. Free.