Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, with a permanent collection of about 300,000 works of art. As a research institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, has a conservation science department, conservation laboratories and one of the most extensive art history and architecture libraries in the United States.

Masterpieces of the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago Collection

The collection covers over 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world and is organised into eleven departments or collections.

American Art Collection

The American Art collection has some of the best-known works of American artists ranging from colonial silver to contemporary paintings.

European Painting and Sculpture Collection

The museum’s collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist paintings includes works from Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georges Seurat, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh. The collection also has the Medieval and Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor holdings and three centuries of Old Masters works.

Modern and Contemporary Art Collection

The museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art was significantly artwork from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, and other significant modern and contemporary artists.

Ancient and Byzantine Collection

The ancient collection spans 4,000 years of art and history, with Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Egyptian sculpture, mosaics, pottery, jewellery, glass, bronze statues and ancient coins. There are around 5,000 works in the collection extending to the Byzantine Empire.

African Art and Indian Art of the Americas Collection

The African Art and Indian Art of the Americas collections include more than 400 works that span the continent, highlighting ceramics, garments, masks, and jewellery. The collection consists of Native North American art and Mesoamerican and Andean works.

Asian Art Collection

The Asian collection spans nearly 5,000 years, with works from China, Korea, Japan, India, southeast Asia, and the Near and Middle East. There are 35,000 objects showcasing bronzes, ceramics, and jades as well as textiles, screens, woodcuts, and sculptures.

Architecture and Design Collection

The Architecture and Design Collection holds 140,000 works, from models to drawings from the 1870s to the present day. The collection covers landscape architecture, structural engineering, and industrial design, including the works of famous architects and designers.

European Decorative Arts Collection

The European Decorative Arts collection includes some 25,000 objects of furniture, ceramics, metalwork, glass, enamel, and ivory from 1100 A.D. to the present day.

Textiles Collection

The Textiles collection is over 13,000 textiles and 66,000 sample swatches in total, covering cultures from 300 B.C. to the present.

Prints and Drawings Collection

The print and drawings collection has grown to 11,500 drawings and 60,000 prints, ranging from 15th-century works to contemporary. The collection has works of Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco Goya, and James McNeill Whistler. Because works on paper are sensitive to light, the works are not on permanent display to preserve the work.

Photography Collection

The photography collection kicked-off when Georgia O’Keeffe donated a significant part of the Alfred Stieglitz collection to the museum. Today the museum’s collection has grown to about 20,000 works spanning from Photography’s start in 1839 to the present.

Art Institute of Chicago

  • Name:               Art Institute of Chicago
  • City:                   Chicago
  • Country:            United States
  • Established:      1879
  • Type:                  Art Museum
  • Collection Size:  300,000
  • Locations:          111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL

Interesting Facts about the Art Institute of Chicago

  • The Art Institute was founded as both a museum and school for the fine arts in 1879, but it wasn’t until 1893 that the current Michigan Avenue building was constructed in time for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
  • The two bronze lions that flank the Michigan Avenue entrance were made for the Art Institute’s opening at its current location in 1893. The lions are not identical and are named for their poses by their sculptor.  The south lion stands “In an Attitude of Defiance,” and the north lion is “On the Prowl.”
  • In the museum logo, there a “V” where there should be a “U” in the word “Institute” as it references the lettering on the original 1893 building, which followed the classical Latin precedent in using a “V” instead of a “U.”
  • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country.
  • The Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room was reconstructed at the Art Institute in 1976. This room was originally built in 1893, was demolished in 1972.

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Photo Credit: By Kim Scarborough (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 us (], via Wikimedia Commons