Chicago Museums: Top 5 must see exhibitions


John Singer Sargent. Mrs. George Swinton (Elizabeth Ebsworth), 1897. Wirt D. Walker Collection.

John Singer Sargent. Mrs. George Swinton (Elizabeth Ebsworth), 1897. Wirt D. Walker Collection.

John Singer Sargent & Chicago’s Gilded Age will run at the Art Institute of Chicago from July 1 through September 30, 2018. The exhibition explores the art of American portraitist John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)–the most sought-after portraitist of his generation-with a focus on his numerous Chicago connections. 

Using the lens of Sargent’s work, the exhibition explores the cultural ambitions of Chicagoans to shape the city into a center of art, the development of an international profile for American artists, and the interplay of traditionalism and modernism at the turn of the 20th century through nearly 100 objects from the Art Institute’s collection, private collections, and public institutions. .

Although he is best known for his portraits, Sargent excelled in a variety of genres and media, including landscapes, watercolors, and murals. This exhibition presents the full range of Sargent’s talents, surveying his touchpoints to Chicago while also illuminating the city’s vibrant art scene.


The Science Behind Pixar at the Museum of Science and Industry showcases the science and technology behind “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Finding Nemo,” and other timeless Pixar films through a series of hands-on and interactive stations that let guests of all ages experience the filmmaking process.

Created by the Museum of Science, Boston and Pixar Animation Studios, The Science Behind Pixar features more than 40 interactive elements demonstrating the technology that supports the creativity and artistry of Pixar’s storytellers. The exhibit is divided into eight sections, each focusing on a step of filmmaking: Modeling, Rigging, Surfaces, Sets and Cameras, Animation, Simulation, Lighting, and Rendering–providing guests with a behind-the-scenes look at the production process and the concepts used at Pixar every day.


SheddbeautyFrom boldly-colored fish and glowing coral to dreamlike patterns, Shedd Aquarium’s new special exhibit, Underwater Beauty showcases the stunning and surprising spectrum of shapes, sizes, movement, patterns and colors that exist within the aquatic animal world.

Featuring over a thousand animals representing 100 species from across the globe, including eels that ribbon, shrimp that can break glass, sea jellies that pulse and fish that swim backwards, the exhibit is displayed through a series of exhibit rooms:

In the first room, Shimmer, guests embark on their underwater journey where they encounter hundreds of shimmering Atlantic false herrings (Harengula clupeola) and become mesmerized by the school of fish moving together in unison.

Room two, Color, celebrates the bold, vibrant spectrum of colors in a living rainbow of fishes – from ruby reds to luscious green plants and the deep violet of purple sea urchins (Stronglyocentrotus purpuratus). Multicolored lights drench guests while displays interpret how colors benefit aquatic life: corals and rock flower anemones (Phymanthus crucifer) reflect beautiful colors of light to help them thrive and grow; and peacock mantis shrimps (Odontodactylus scyllarus) can see colors humans can’t observe.

The busy and beautiful patterns in room three, named Patterns, dominate some of the most charismatic and recognizable aquatic creatures. This high-energy space showcases some of the most incredible displays of pattern and the purposes they serve. Guest will learn how black stripes allow animals like the zebra pleco (Hypancistrus zebra) to hide in plain sight and how an inky-black spot on the tail of the four-eyed butterflyfish (Chaetodon capistratus) can deceive predators.

In room four, Rhythm, guests can observe the breathtaking beauty that comes from how animals move through the water. When sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) hypnotize guests as they pulse through the water and other animals sway, dart and dance, guests might find themselves moving to the beat of the aquatic world.

The final room in the exhibit, Move You showcases dozens of species – shimmering discus (Symphysodon aequifasciatus), rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani), gouramis (Trichogaster churna) and more from freshwater lakes, rivers and streams from around the world.




Big things are on tap at the Field Museum with the debut of MAXIMO, the world’s largest dinosaur. In addition to the big attraction, the museum’s new exhibition Antarctic Dinosaurs follows Field Museum scientists through an expedition in search of groundbreaking discoveries in the frozen continent of Antarctica.

Guests can getup close to real fossils of newly-discovered dinosaurs and full-sized replicas showing what the dinos would have looked like  and deepen their understanding of one of the most isolated and dangerous environments on Earth. 


I Was Raised on the Internet, at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art examines the impact of the internet and how it has changed the way we experience the world. The exhibit, that opens June 23, features nearly 100 interactive artworks from 1998 to the present including photography, painting, sculpture, film and video, as well as emerging technologies, interactive computer works, and virtual reality with a global focus.
The works range from new media artists such as Oculus Rift. to platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to a look at culture and what’s ‘trending.’
It examines the influence of gaming and entertainment, as well as social media and smart phones, on everyday life by decoding a generation of artists and viewers who have come to speak a unique vocabulary that has emerged in the new millennium. Throughout the exhibition, the viewer will become an active agent, engaging in new forms of technology and participating with the works both in the galleries and the digital works hosted online.
Highlights of the show include a series of photographs from artist Amalia Ulman’s four-month Instagram project Excellences & Perfections, examining the influence of social media on attitudes toward the female body; an immersive, glowing matrix-like space by Hito Steyerl called Factory of the Sun; a hub connected to a private network by MacArthur genius grantee Trevor Paglen, called Autonomy Cube, in which visitors can surf the web anonymously; and a sculpture and video installation by Simon Denny that critiques the politics of cyptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and the economics of the internet.

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