An Art Lover's Guide to Chicago

Art Museums, Galleries, and Public Works

Chicago is famous for its art, from its impressive collection of public art, to its world-renowned museums. From its public art, like the Cloud Gate, to the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago has no shortage of artistic finds for locals and visitors alike.
Chicago Water Tower
Chicago Water Tower
The Chicago Water Tower is a landmark of the Old Chicago Water Tower District. It sits along the famous Magnificent Mile shopping district and was built in 1869, making it the second oldest water town in the country. Inside the building is a gallery that features local artists and photographers.
800 North Michigan Avenue, The Magnificent Mile, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
Crown Fountain
Crown Fountain
Crown Fountain is a video sculpture and work of art that's located in Chicago's Millennium Park. It opened in 2004 and has a black granite reflecting pool between two glass brick towers that display digital videos. The water is turned on between the months of May and October.
Crown Fountain, Loop, Chicago, Illinois
Interested in more travel advice for Chicago? Check out Activities and Things to Do in the Fall in Chicago and Best Places To Enjoy A Picnic In Chicago.
Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago dates back to 1879 and is found in Chicago's Grant Park. It's home to one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country where it houses a large collection of more than 300,000 works including Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist and Grant Wood's American Gothic.
111 South Michigan Avenue, Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60604
Cloud Gate (The Bean)
Cloud Gate (The Bean)
"The Bean" is a 110 ton stainless steel sculpture that was designed by Anish Kapoor. It's surface is a mirror and the shape of the structure was inspired by a drop of liquid mercury. During the winter months, there is a public ice skating rink surrounding The Bean.
201 E Randolph St, Millennium Park, Chicago, IL, 60602
Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum houses an impressive permanent collection with more than 2,500 pieces on display on a rotational basis. The works span the 1920s through present day. There are also a number of summer events hosted here including Tuesdays on the Terrace which offers free live jazz performances in the museum gardens. On summer mornings there are weekly farmer's markets.
220 E Chicago Ave, Streeterville, Chicago, IL, 60611
Rogers Park
Rogers Park is a bit off the main tourist circuit, but it has a number of unique architectural examples, including the Emil Bach House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as an impressive theater scene. The neighborhood is diverse, and that's reflected in the restaurants found there. It is also home to the Glenwood Avenue Arts District which has impressive murals, award-winning theaters, and a variety of live music venues. There are also many art galleries in the neighborhood. To the east the neighborhood runs into Lake Michigan's shoreline and there are many nice waterfront views.
Chicago, IL
Richard H. Driehaus Museum
This grand museum offers an impressive setting with its marble floors, ornate staircases, and elegant fireplaces. It's decorated with antique furnishings and opulent art. This museum is located in the former Nickerson Mansion, often called the Marble Palace and it hosts a number of rotating exhibits and activities throughout the year.
40 E Erie St, Near North Side, Chicago, IL, 60611
Smart Museum of Art
Located on the University of Chicago campus, this art museum houses the university's collection of fine arts and antiquities. There are ceramics and ancient works all the way to contemporary pieces. There's also a sculpture garden in the courtyard.
5550 S Greenwood Ave, Hyde Park, Chicago, IL, 60637
If you're looking for more information about Chicago, read The Best Children's Museums in Chicago and Where to Relax with a Book in Chicago.
Museum of Contemporary Photography
This small museum is a unique place to visit. It has interesting vintage photos as well as modern works. There is an impressive collection by Dorothea Lange who photographed the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. There is also a featured exhibit that highlights Midwest photographers and their work with social issues from around the world.
600 S Michigan Ave, South Loop, Chicago, IL, 60605
Boeing Galleries
The Boeing Galleries, which include North Boeing Gallery and South Boeing Gallery, are a pair of outdoor exhibits located in Millennium Park. The galleries display a series of contemporary and modern art works.
Loop, Chicago, Illinois, 60601
National Museum of Mexican Art
The National Museum of Mexican Art highlights Mexican, Latino, and Chicano art and culture. This is the only Latino museum that's accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
1852 West 19th Street, Pilsen, Chicago, Illinois, 60608
How much does it cost?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $14 to $427. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $77. A few of the best options are below.

Where to Stay in Chicago

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Chicago has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: The Best Art Museums in Chicago.
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