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In addition to permanent collections that include Pablo Picasso’sThe Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper’sNighthawks, and Grant Wood’sAmerican Gothic, the Art Institute hosts about 30 special exhibitions each year. These special exhibits showcase the talents of the museum’s world-renowned curatorial staff and highlight specific elements within collections, scientific research, and other innovations. Even the building itself is a work of art—it was constructed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, which later became the World’s Fair.
You may visit the museum independently or as part of a group walking or Segway tour. Purchase skip-the-line access so you can spend more time browsing the collections than waiting in line. Admission to the institute is included in both the Chicago CityPASS and Chicago Explorer Pass cards. It’s also a stop on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus.
Wheelchairs and strollers are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hearing-assist devices are available at the Michigan Avenue checkroom and sign language tours and tours with sighted guides are available with advance notice.
Dining options include a cafe, outdoor dining, and an upscale Italian restaurant.
The museum is located in downtown Chicago adjacent to Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park. There are two easily accessible entrances: one from the historic main building at 111 S. Michigan Avenue and one from the Modern Wing at 159 E. Monroe Street. Several parking garages are nearby, or you can choose valet service. A number of city bus and L Train routes pass within a block or two.
The museum is open daily from 10:30am–5pm, except Thursdays, when it is open until 8pm. General admission is free to all Illinois residents every Thursday evening from 5–8pm. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
The institute’s works of art aren’t confined to walled buildings—they extend into several outdoor spaces as well. You’ll find traditional flower gardens, mature trees, shade-loving plants, succulents, and more on the grounds, plus one-of-a-kind sculptures, outdoor installations, and reused architectural fragments. The perfect place to take a break from the hubbub inside, the gardens provide a much-appreciated respite to museum visitors looking to take a quick breather.