Art Institute News/Changes

I love the Art Institute! So much that I've been volunteering there since February 2002. When I was there last Sunday for my regular shift, I was nearly overwhelmed with all the coming changes! My first reaction was a mix of “BOO!” and “YAY!” I and my fellow public contact volunteers will have our work MORE than cut out for us, for the next several months! Let me start with the good news.

After a five-year absence, the “Chagall Windows” as they are most popularly known, will finally be put on view again on November 1st! They were de-installed/removed when construction of the new Modern Wing began in 2005. Finally, at last, they will again be on display! I can hardly wait! Since they wil not be installed as functional windows like they were before, I'm very anxious to see how they will look in their new location: the old Columbus Drive lobby area, which will become the new Gallery 144.

The new Japanese Galleries will be opening on Sep 26th. Word at the museum is: These newly renovated and expanded galleries promise to transform the museum into a leading destination for visitors to and lovers of the arts of Japan.

For the first time ever, some of the Thorne Miniature Rooms will be decorated for the Christmas holidays! This info has not yet been published to the public. But rumor has it that about 6 of the rooms will be decorated in holiday finery. Can't wait! The Thorne Rooms are my Number One favorite exhibit at the Art Institute!

Arms & Armor/Baronial Hall
After a long absence (2+ years), the rest of the Arms and Armor collection will finally be on display again, in a newly-designed “Baronial Hall”. Again, no public info on this but rumor has it that the opening date will be early 2011. This collection is my 2nd favorite exhibit at the museum and I've missed it a lot! They had a few pieces on display on the lower level near the Thorne Rooms/Photography galleries and on the second level. I can hardly wait to see the rest of this vast collection on display again in a permanent space.

Native American/African Art Galleries
This is one of the museum's smaller collections, and it has been moved a couple of times in conjunction with building of the new wing and reconfiguration of existing galleries. However, with the renovation/remodeling of the Morton Wing (where the Arms and Armor will be, and the former home of the museum's modern/contemporary art collection), this permanent collection will be displayed again in early 2011.

“Paris Street, Rainy Day” Going on Tour. I always hate hearing about iconic pieces like this from the permanent collection, going away - if only for a few months. This one is going to a museum in Germany until February 2011, for an exhibit they are having. (Sniff-sniff!) It will no longer be the centerpiece of the Impressionist galleries – Gallery 201 – after Sep 7th.

Hours Change: The museum will open a half hour later on Sunday – 10:30am instead of 10:00am. As a Sunday morning volunteer, I'm not too unhappy about that. It gives me an extra hour for breakfast, travel time, whatever. But for those visitors who have a limited time to begin with, it's gonna cut into their limited time.

Free Days: I think this is gonna be a BIG issue for many visitors. As we all know, general admission fees for ANY large, popular museum in Chicago has become pricey. It's not like the “old days” when all Chicago museums were free, and later shared the same free day. Beginning after Labor Day 2010, the museum will change its free day/hours. As a volunteer, all I know for sure is that Thursday evenings – 5:00pm to 8:00pm – will no longer be FREE after the Labor Day weekend. They will still have some free days/times. But I don't yet have details for exactly when they will be. I'm guessing something like our other museums have: First Tuesday of the month; 2nd Saturday; when the moon is in the 7th House, etc. The Art museum is suffering (in their own way) the same economic downturn/problems as everyone else and trying to survive and stay open.

I am not trying to promote this museum. Just sharing my love of it and trying to let others know about this local gem. For more info, just visit the museum's website:
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual and not those of StreetAdvisor.
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Deena 2yrs+
WOO-HOO! A Happy update - seems the museum WILL continue to be free on Thursday evenings from 5p-8p! Seems Target will be picking up the tab for this for at least the next year. YAY! For those who may not have known - it's large companies/corporations like Target that pay for museums' free days/hours.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual and not those of StreetAdvisor.

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