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Art Institute of Chicago
City: Chicago, IL
Country: USAAddress: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60603-6404
Website: www.artic.edu Uploaded artworks: 433 Uploaded artist: 205
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of America's premier fine art museums located near the Loop community in Chicago, Illinois. The Museum is overseen by President James Cuno. The Museum is especially known for its extensive collection of Impressionist and American art, and also boasts an exetended collection of master works garnering international praise. It is located on the western edge of Grant Park, at 111 South Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District, in a building designed by the Boston firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (1892). It is the third most popular cultural attraction in Chicago.
The Art Institute of Chicago Building was originally constructed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition as the World's Congress Auxiliary Building, with the intent that the Art Institute occupy the space after the fair closed.
Today, the museum is most famous for its collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and American paintings. Included in the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection are more than 30 paintings by Claude Monet, including six of his Haystacks and a number of Water Lilies. Important works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, such as Two Sisters (On the Terrace), as well as Paul CĂ©zanneâ€™s The Bathers, The Basket of Apples, and Madame CĂ©zanne in a Yellow Chair, are in the collection. At the Moulin Rouge, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is another highlight, as are Georges Seuratâ€™s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and Gustave Caillebotteâ€™s Paris Street; Rainy Day. Non-French paintings completing the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection include Vincent Van Goghâ€™s Bedroom in Arles and Self-portrait, 1887. Among the most important works of the American collection are Grant Woodâ€™s American Gothic and Edward Hopperâ€™s Nighthawks.
The museum has much more than paintings, however. Fine sculptures from all over the world can be seen. In the basement are the Thorne Rooms. There are exact miniatures demonstrating American and European architectural and furniture styles. Also in the basement are galleries displaying its world-class photography collection. On the main floor is the George F. Harding collection of arms and armor reflecting armaments and armor throughout the Medieval period and Renaissance. A fine collection of Pre-Columbian Meso-American ceramic figures is another outstanding display. A special feature of the museum is a â€śtouchableâ€ť statue for the blind, and for children. It is an expressive facial portrait of young St. Joan dâ€™Arc.
The Museum is in the midst of a major expansion to create a new Modern Art Wing to house its modern art collection. The structure, designed by Renzo Piano and scheduled to open to the public in 2009, will include a bridge connecting the top floor of the new wing with the popular Chicago Millenium Park to the north. The addition will also include a courtyard designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol.
The Art Institute hopes that the new addition will draw added attention to its 20th Century collections, which include such important paintings as Pablo Picassoâ€™s The Old Guitarist, Henri Matisseâ€™s Bathers by a River, and RenĂ© Magritteâ€™s Time Transfixed. The curators of the museum believe that its modern collections are on par with the best in the world, "comparable only to those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Centre in Paris." They also note that "No other encyclopedic museum in the United States or any other country has collections of modern and contemporary art to rival those of the Art Institute." The modern collection, they concede, has been overshadowed in the past by the Art Instituteâ€™s extraordinary 19th century collection.
The Art Institute's famous western entrance on Michigan Avenue is guarded by two bronze lion statues created by Edward L. Kemeys. When a Chicago sports team makes the playoffs, the lions are frequently dressed in that teamâ€™s uniform. Just inside the eastern doors is a reconstruction of the trading room of the old Chicago Stock Exchange. Designed by Louis Sullivan in 1894, the Exchange was torn down in 1972. Salvaged portions of the original room were brought to the Art Institute and reconstructed. Leaving the Art Institute through the east doors at the end of the driveway is the Stock Exchange entrance.
The Art Institute building has the unusual property of straddling open-air railroad tracks. The east and west buildings of the museum are separated by the tracks used by the Metra Electric Line and South Shore Line. While a windowless gallery connects the two buildings, a glass atrium on the south side of the west building allows museumgoers to look down at the passing commuter trains.
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