Chicago has a long legacy of influential art and architecture. And the city celebrates its creative legacy in a big way every year. The calendar is full of exciting art and architecture events, from the largest contemporary art show in the Midwest to free behind-the-scenes architectural tours and more.

Get the scoop on the exciting art and architecture events and exhibitions in Chicago.

EXPO CHICAGO/EXPO ART WEEK

EXPO

The annual EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, is held at Navy Pier. Ushering in the international fall art season, EXPO CHICAGO hosts approximately 150 leading art galleries and institutions from more than 20 countries, each showcasing the works of global artists.

Besides exhibits and art installations created by emerging and established artists, EXPO CHICAGO offers panel discussions conducted by art critics and museum curators. The event also features pop-ups from top Chicago restaurants and international beverage houses, mixed in with on-site programs and events.

In conjunction with EXPO CHICAGO, EXPO ART WEEK features some of Chicago’s most prestigious institutions celebrating arts and culture through citywide museum exhibitions, gallery openings, outdoor installations, and public art projects, as well as music, theatre, and dance performances.

Chicago Architecture Biennial

Chicago Cultural Center ©Lucy Hewett

The Chicago Architecture Biennial showcases innovative strides in architecture and design from across the globe. The ground-breaking event, which is the largest such exhibition on the continent, puts a spotlight on modern issues in architecture and the most cutting-edge solutions. Centered around the Chicago Cultural Center, the Biennial offers free events throughout the city, including pop-up exhibits, public lectures, workshops, performances, open houses, and more. The event typically runs from September through January every other year.

Open House Chicago

Elks National Memorial
Eric Allix Rogers

Have you ever walked by a building and wondered what’s inside? You can see for yourself during Chicago’s annual Open House Chicago, a free public festival hosted by the Chicago Architecture Center.

Each October, more than 270 Chicago buildings throw open their doors for self-guided tours. Explore soaring skyscrapers, opulent mansions, exclusive private clubs, and more across 29 different neighborhoods. No tickets or registration are required for most sites, and you can build your own itinerary based on location or your own must-sees. 

Historic Pullman House Tour

Pullman

For one weekend only, get a rare glimpse inside the homes one of the nation’s most historic neighborhoods. Now in its 49th year, the Historic Pullman House Tour in October lets you step inside private residences throughout the landmark neighborhood. Designed as a factory town, the area contains everything from executive mansions to 14-foot wide worker’s cottages to multi-unit apartments, all more than a century old. While you’re there, don’t miss the  Pullman National Monument.

SOFA

SOFA

The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair, held at Navy Pier each fall, is a world-renowned gallery-presented art fair dedicated to 3D art and design. SOFA presents artworks that cross the boundaries of fine art, decorative art, and design, showcased by an elite selection of international dealers.

Each year draws in around 80 art dealers and 35,000 attendees, resulting in $15 to $20 million in sales each show. With a strong educational emphasis, SOFA CHICAGO includes an acclaimed lecture series and special exhibits exploring the works on view and surveying new trends in the art world.