Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and the first of many days off of school during the month of November in Chicago. We decided to utilize the still-warm fall weather and take public transportation downtown to The Art Institute of Chicago.
Sometimes my kids and I both get overwhelmed in massive museums as there is so much to see and never enough time or energy to do it all. If you have an hour or two, here are seven things you must see at The Art Institute for the whole family.
1. The Lions out front of the museum on Michigan Avenue are iconic. In researching them, I discovered they have their own twitter account.
2. Marc Chagall’s America Windows. These famous windows have been exhibited since 1977 and include an interesting story of how Chagall created this unique mosaic specifically for this museum.
The Art Institute website explains, “In response to the city’s enthusiasm for his work and the Art Institute’s great support, the artist offered to create a set of stained-glass windows for the museum. Over the course of three years, plans were clarified, and in the end, Chagall determined that the windows would commemorate America’s bicentennial. The resulting six-panel work celebrates the country as a place of cultural and religious freedom, detailing the arts of music, painting, literature, theater, and dance.”
3. George Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. This is hands down my long-time favorite painting at the museum. If you look closely the entire painting is made solely of dots and is a stunning example of pointillism.
4. Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Another highly popular painting that even my children recognized. My son learned while we were there that the man in the painting was based on his dentist, and the woman was his sister. Also, it is much smaller than expected.
5. Seated Buddha. This giant Buddha is breathtaking beautiful. You will pass it on the way to the Chagall’s American Windows and it is impossible to miss. Look around this India art gallery and find the Ganesha and other inspiring sculptures and masks.
6. Thorne Miniature Rooms. The 68 detailed mini rooms reminded my son of his diorama project and my daughter of her dollhouse. These European and American interiors were constructed in the 1930s at a scale of one inch to one foot.
7. Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. This popular oil painting on canvas uses lights and shapes to create a familiar scene, even though painted in 1942.
According to Hopper’s website, “Hopper explained that Nighthawks was inspired by ‘a restaurant on New York’s Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet.’ The diner has since been destroyed, but the image, with its carefully constructed composition and lack of narrative, has a timeless quality that transcends any particular location. The painting reveals three customers lost in their own private thoughts. The anonymous and uncommunicative night owls seem as remote from the viewer as they are from one another. Although Hopper denied that he purposely infused any of his paintings with symbols of isolation and emptiness, he acknowledged of Nighthawks that, ‘unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city.’
You also should check out the Caffe Moderno. This new quick-order restaurant in the basement has a wide selection of healthy, filling and fresh options. Also, if you are in a shopping mood visit the Gift Shop on your way out, especially for the unique jewelry, books and kids section.
I hope this inspires you to be a tourist in your own city and visit the museums near you. Please share your must-see things to see at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Make sure you don’t miss out on future articles. Like Ups and Downs of a Yoga Mom on Facebook or type your email address in the box below and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.