The Art Institute of Chicago Museum

The Art Institute of Chicago - Your Museum

To visitors, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s great galleries. Encompassing more than 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world, the museum contains more than 300,000 works of art. TripAdvisor, the popular website for frequent travelers, listed the Art Institute as the world's number 1 museum in the 2014 Traveler's Choice Awards.

To you, it is part of your daily life. Both your studio and art history faculty will bring you here often. The museum is an extension of your classroom. You will experience the incredible color range in a Van Gogh self-portrait, the intricate details of an Ansel Adams landscape photograph, and the ethereal nature of a Mark Rothko painting by looking directly at them—up close and personal. You have unlimited access to the museum collection and can linger and discover pieces that speak to your current practice, inspiring you to push your work in new directions.

Ever since the 19th century, when the museum collection of the Art Institute was established as a study center for the School of the Art Institute (SAIC), students have used the its vast holdings to inspire and inform their creative and scholarly practices. No other school of art and design can claim such a major museum as part of their campus. Visits to the museum become integral aspects of many students' Art History classes, and assignments often include analyses and responses to pieces from the collection. Studio art faculty teach through the museum's exhibitions, sparking discussion by observing actual examples of surfaces, forms, color, and techniques. 

Museum exhibitions bring historical and contemporary design directly to SAIC's students and the encyclopedic nature of the collection means that global representation is always at hand. From a Power Figure (Nkisi Nkondi) from the Republic of Congo to a Chinese Neolithic Globular Jar with intricately painted abstract designs, world culture and its myriad visual representations are here to be examined, critiqued, appropriated, and built upon by our engaged students. The relationship of the museum and the school—where the display of the finest works of art and design shares space with the activity of experimental studios—allows our students to gain a solid footing in the traditions of visual culture from the Art Institute's extraordinary assets. 

Prints and Drawings Room

The Department of Prints and Drawings houses an incredible collection of works on paper ranging in date from the 15th century to the present. The department is not open to the public, but as an SAIC student you can make an appointment to examine the nuances in the work of such artists as Rembrandt, Turner, Degas, and Lichtenstein. What other school provides you such insight to the thought processes of Cézanne—the ideas both realized and rejected—made accessible in an exploration of his sketchbooks? 

The Ryerson & Burnham Libraries-One of the Largest Art and Architecture Resources in the World

The Ryerson & Burnham Libraries are the art and architecture research collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and one of the largest art and architecture resources in the world. As an SAIC student you have access to this inspiring collection of architects’ diaries, correspondence, job files, photographs, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, articles, transcripts, and personal papers.