Chicago: Sprawling and Intimate

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC) urban campus places you in the epicenter of the city's unparalleled architecture, innovative public art, world-class museums and galleries, and vibrant community of working artists, designers, writers, and thinkers. 

We have 1.8 million square feet of space in nine buildings, all in the center of Chicago. This gives us a unique position as a metropolitan campus at the heart of one of the world’s most important cultural and artistic cities.

The whole of the downtown is a resource for our students. It is your very own living laboratory with fashion, poetry, theater, art, and media. Everything that you want to drive your passions forward is available here.

Initially, you will see the roaring El trains, sparkling lake, and impressive skyline. But as you explore you will start to see the real Chicago—the cafés, music clubs, restaurants, parks, galleries, and unique neighborhoods.

City Life

Chicago's diverse heritage and thriving arts scene nourishes and supports visionaries in every creative field. The city's pop-up spaces, apartment galleries, and artist collectives co-exist with centuries-old cultural institutions, municipal buildings, and grand scale theaters.  

Beyond downtown lies a multicultural mosaic of neighborhoods and communities, all easily accessible through the famous elevated tracks of one of the oldest public transportation systems in the country. SAIC students take advantage of the Chicago Reader, a popular free newspaper, to find gallery openings, film festivals, radio shows, music clubs, restaurants, food festivals, theater, and dance performances. On any given day, the number of cultural activities on and off campus is staggering—the greatest challenge is to choose among the diversity of options available across the city. 

Chicago has character. People who live here admit to being changed by its urban contours. They become not just citizens of one of the largest and most famous cities in America, but part of its fabric. Chicagoans—either born and bred or just here temporarily—each participate in the collective building and transforming of a city that is always moving, always in the process of becoming something more.

Irresistible for Artists

A city of unparalleled architecture, innovative public art, world-class museums and galleries, and a vibrant community of working artists, designers, writers, and thinkers, all at your disposal.

  • Home to one of the world’s largest communities of working artists and designers,
  • A thriving art scene with more than 400 galleries and theatres
  • Incredible public art—from Millennium Park to Picasso, Miró, Chagall, and Abakanowicz
  • Inspirational architecture, including some of the most innovative buildings ever built

The Art Institute of Chicago is the school’s museum and holds the third largest collection of art in the world. In 2014, TripAdvisor reviewers ranked the Art Institute of Chicago as the top museum in the world.

You will meet and become part of the city’s working artists’ community. They are entrepreneurs who start magazines, music clubs, gallery spaces, radio shows, and film festivals. Your art will join their art, displayed in store windows, hidden lofts, coffee shops, community centers, old movie houses, and gleaming modern museums.