Posts Tagged ‘Art Institute of Chicago’

A Day in Chicago

 

Third in series on bucket-list towns where there is so much to see that that it is easy to miss some really good places. The series, begun with A Day in LA and continued with A Day in DC, highlights two attractions and includes a foodie stop plus an alternative attraction.

 

Combine art and architecture

Your start and end spots are Michigan Avenue from Monroe to Randolph Streets.

Modern Wing of Art Institute of Chicago Monroe Street entrance. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Modern Wing of Art Institute of Chicago Monroe Street entrance. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Of course you know that the Art Institute of Chicago has the finest French Impressionist collection outside of Paris.

But you might not know that as of December 2016 with the addition of the ‘New Contemporay’ it also has on exhibit an outstanding collection of contemporary art by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Robert Raushenberg and Takahi Murakami and other influential artists plus important photographs by Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince.

Comparable to that at the new Broad Museum in LA, the “New Contemporary” collection is on a long-term loan from philanthropists Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson. See it in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing.

However, the museum doesn’t open until 10:30 a.m. You don’t need to enter with the mass waiting for it to open. So think petit déjeuner at Toni Patisserie at 65 E. Washington Street, a couple of blocks north of the museum.

 

‘The People’s Palace’

You are now perfectly placed to go across the street to “The People’s Palace” as the Chicago Cultural Center was sometimes called. Its south door at 78 E. Washington Street, is across from the Patisserie and is a perfect place to start the day after your croissant and latte.

Pull out the smart phone. The outside of the building is somewhat ponderous but inside is one amazing sight after another starting with the awesome mosaics that line the entryway’s Carrara marble staircase and walls.

Designed by the renowned architecture firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, Boston in a Beaux Arts style in 1897 it reflected the taste of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The building housed the Chicago Public Library so look for literary and historical faces and saying in the mosaics.

Mosaics line stairway and walls in Chicago Culture Center known as the 'People's Palace' Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Mosaics line stairway and walls in Chicago Culture Center known as the ‘People’s Palace’
Photo by Jodie Jacobs

If you entered from Washington Street you might notice Roman style arches.If you walk through to the Randolph Street entrance you will see Greek influence and Doric columns.

On the National Register of Historic Places, its upstairs is filled with beautiful spaces. Look up when you reach the third floor on the Washington Street side. You are in the gorgeous Preston Bradley Hall capped by reportedly the world’s largest Tiffany Favrile glass dome. Surrounded by fish scales, the dome’s center has the signs of the zodiac.

Walk around the room to your left (west side) to get to the impressive Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda and its stained-glass dome. Go into the decorative GAR Memorial Hall.

Chicagoans come to the building for literary readings, dance and music programs, lectures, expos and concerts and to admire GAR rooms and Preston Bradley Hall.

They also come to see the ever changing art exhibits. So, take time to stroll to see what’s being shown around the building. Featured art shows are typically on the fourth floor and sometimes in the Chicago Room on Level Two. The main floor has exhibition space running along both the east and west sides of the building.

 

The ‘Modern Wing’

When ready to check out the Art Institute’s Modern Wing cross Michigan Avenue and walk south to the museum’s Monroe Street entrance. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the wing opened in 2009 to mainly house modern European painting and sculpture and contemporary art collections. Tip: don’t try to do all of the Art Institute in one trip. The museum has nearly one million square feet.

At the Monroe Street Modern Wing entrance, you walk into the two-story, sky-lit Griffin Court.

The elevator up to Levels Two and Three take you to the museum’s 20th and 21st century collections. To see what’s on exhibit regarding architecture, go up to the café overlooking the Court. The room off the back is devoted to architecture.

 

Lunch break

When ready for sustenance, take an elevator from the short corridor on the west side off Griffin Court up to Terzo Piano, an upscale Italian restaurant guided by famed Chef Tony Mantuano. Reservations are highly recommended because lunch, from 11 to 3 p.m. fills fast (312-443-8650).

'Cloud Gate' better known as 'The Bean' in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

‘Cloud Gate’ better known as ‘The Bean’ in Millennium Park. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Even if you don’t snag a reservation go out onto the Bluhm Family Terrace outside the restaurant for a spectacular photo op. You can capture Chicago’s skyline, Millennium Park and Lake Michigan in your lens. Plus there usually are some sculptures on the Terrace.

From there take Piano’s unusual Nichols Bridgeway pedestrian walk over Monroe Street down to Millennium Park. About halfway down turn around and take a photo of the Modern Wing.

If you’re still looking for a lunch spot see if a table is available in Millennium Park’s Park Grill. It is street level (behind the ice rink in winter) at 11 N. Michigan Ave.

You’ll want to end near there anyway because “The Bean,” Anish Kapoor’s stainless steel “Cloud Gate,” is directly above the Park Grill. You have to take a selfie at The Bean and a photo of Chicago’s reflected skyline on it. Everyone does.

 

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Some Chicago area options

 

From top museums to university programs and volunteer projects there are lots of places to spend time off work or school on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 16, 2017.

MLK Day celebrates the birthday of the famed civil rights leader (Jan. 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) on the third Monday of January. It is a federal holiday so most schools and banks are closed and there won’t be any U. S. Postal deliveries.

 

The Field and most other Chicago museums have free general admission for Illinois residents On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Field and most other Chicago museums have free general admission for Illinois residents On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Museums

However, Chicago’s museums are open and several are offering free general admission to Illinois residents. In addition, some of them have extended free general admission to other days the third week of January.

On the Museum Campus, that arm sticking out from Lake Shore Drive in Lake Michigan at 12th Street, look for the Adler Planetarium at the far eastern end at 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.

The Shedd Aquarium sits  in the middle of the arm  at 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive and The Field Museum is  by the entrance to the campus at 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive.

The Art Institute of Chicago has free programs in its Ryan Learning Center from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.. They range from performances and stories to art projects. Check out the day’s schedule here. Visitors for these programs enter the Modern Wing entrance at 159 E. Monroe St. to go to the Learning Center.  The museum is also free all day for Illinois Residents. Main entrance is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

The Museum of Science and Industry also has free general admission. MSI is in the Hyde Park neighborhood at 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637

 

Community projects

Several suburbs have volunteer projects taking place on MLK Day. Check your  suburb.

On the North Shore, Highland Park has invited Illinois Secretary of State Jess White who was a student of Dr. King, and the Jesse White Tumblers to appear. In addition, the town has several service projects. The Recreation Center of Highland Park is the headquarters for the events. They run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. See HP for details.

The Village of Deerfield  is collecting supplies for the homeless  and has organized service projects. The Deerfield  Village Hall is headquarters for a Day of Service from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For details click Deerfield.

 

Northwestern University

The university has programs at its Evanston and Chicago Campuses

In Evanston
A play by Allie Woodson about what it means to be young, gifted and black is performed Jan. 13 at  7:30pm and Jan. 14 at  2and 7:30 p.m. at Shanley Pavilion,  2031 Sheridan Rd.

“Social Movements for Racial Justice: From the Chicago Freedom Movement to Black Lives Matter” is Jan. 21, 10  a.m. in Fisk Hall 217, 1845 Sheridan Rd. The program is an intergenerational presentation and discussion about racial justice movements in Chicago over the last 50 years. Authors of the book The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King and Civil Rights Activism in the North will share personal experiences marching with Dr. King..

NASA astronaut Mae Jamison, a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, gives  a keynote address Jan. 23, at 6 p.m.p.m. in the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive.

 

Chicago Campus

NASA astronaut Mae Jamison will speak Jan. at noon at the Hughes Auditorium, 303 E. Superior St.

 

Fun holiday sights offer an unusual shopping bonus

The big Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree is now history but there are still gifts to get and some fun outings still on the to-do list. Combine them!

The Field Museum has an awesome gift shop. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Field Museum has an awesome gift shop. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

For one-of-a-kind gifts, there are hardly any better places to look than in museum shops.

 

At the Art Institute of Chicago, the stunning ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’ exhibit fills Regenstein Hall. A retrospective with more than 300 works of László Moholy-Nagy who influenced everything from advertising and manufacturing to art movements and design, the exhibit is reason enough to plan an outing before it leaves Jan. 3, 2017.

Tip: The museum’s huge gift shop in the main building and the selective gift shop in the Modern Wing are definitely places to find special items you likely won’t see elsewhere. Plus, you will benefit the Art Institute.

 

Dec. 3 and 4, 2016 are free admission days at The Field Museum and The Field’s regular exhibits are fascinating any time. But China’s Terracotta Warriors are there only through Jan. 8, 2017 so go before they head home.

Tip: The Field has an amazing gift shop of items from all over the world. It would be hard not to leave there with a gift (including something for oneself).

 

Christkindlekarket Chicago downtown on Daley Plaza, is designed to emulate Nuremberg’s holiday market, begun in the 16th century. The market opened in Chicago as a trade event in the 1990s. This is a place to visit for fun and food.

Tip: The vendors sell items not easily found in the United States such as Bavarian glass and pewter. It has expanded to include items from other countries such as Ireland and Poland so have fun browsing.  BTW, Naperville also now has a Christkindlemarket.

Long Grove Confectionery Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Long Grove Confectionery
Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 

Historic Long Grove, a north suburban village that dates from the mid 1800s, dresses up Dickens fashion for the holidays. Go for a carriage ride and to hear carolers or take a selfie by the covered bridge.

Tip: Pick up treats at the town’s famed Long Grove Confectionery, gifts at the Olive Tap and check out other boutiques for specialty items.

 

Be of good cheer, holiday fun is here.

 

Holiday Happenings when not interested in Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Macy’s Windows, Walnut Room Tree and SantaLand

Macy's Great Tree Photo by Debbie Jacobs

Macy’s Great Tree
Photo by Debbie Jacobs

Youngsters and adults press their noses to the windows of Macy’s on State Street to see holiday stories and wonderful winter animation scenes. Already attracting passers by, the scenes will be up through Jan. 8, 2017. While there go up to the 7th floor to see the Great Tree in the Walnut Room. It’s a dazzling two-story-high tree emblazened with 6,600 lights and 2,000 ornaments. Walnut Room lines can be long but there is quicker seating in the bar area where you still can see the tree. Youngsters who want to visit Santa at his Cozy Cloud Cottage, go to SantaLand on the 5th floor. It’s open until Dec. 24, 2016.

Macy’s on State is 111 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60602. For other information call (312) 781-1000 and see visit Chicago Macy’s.

 

Art Institute Thorne Rooms

First take a selfie outside the museum with the museum’s famous lions. They are wreathed for the holidays. Inside, go downstairs to peek into 68 tiny, doll-house-sized rooms. Holiday decorations added to nearly a dozen of them on Nov. 22, 2016 will stay there through Jan. 8, 2017.. Constructed to mirror different styles and periods in Europe and the United States, furnishings are sized one inch to the foot. Tip: Look for Frank Lloyd Wright’s William Martin House’s breakfast room that is included for the first time this year.

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 South Michigan Ave.,  Chicago, Illinois 60603. For other information call (312) 443-3600 and visit AIC Thorne Rooms.

 

Wonderland  Express

See millions of lights glistening as you approach the Chicago Botanic Garden from Lake Cook Road in north suburban Glencoe. Inside the Regenstein Center, tiny trains pass through miniature villages in the first room. But save lots of time for the great room where trains rush overhead and ground level past Chicago landmarks. Gently falling snow indoors sets a festive, winter mood. Continue through to see more trains and landmarks in what looks like a train station. But don’t forget the greenhouses. Decorated with gorgeous poinsiettas they are back by the Wonderland’s entrance. Everything is up from Nov. 25- Jan. 2, 2017. However, for special events go to hear caroling mornings Nov. 25-27 and see ice sculpting mid-day Dec. 11.

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Chicago Botanic Garden Wonderland Express. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The Chicago Botanic Garden is at 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. For other information call (847) 835-5440 and visit Wonderland Express.

 

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