Chicago is a city full of history, art, culture — and you’ll find a lot of all those things in our acclaimed cultural institutions. As the city’s museums continue to reopen responsibly, they’ll be unveiling a slate of jaw-dropping exhibits all year long. Here’s our list of just a few of the Chicago museum exhibits worth a visit in 2021. And explore even more with our guide to open museums in Chicago.
Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit at Germania Club
Open now through Sept. 6, 2021
With 500,000 cubic feet of projections, submerge yourself within Van Gogh’s most iconic paintings. Wander within the famous landscapes and scenery as they’re projected along the walls, set to an original score, throughout the Lighthouse Artspace Chicago, a new venue within Chicago’s recently renovated landmark Germania Club Building.
The Obama Portraits at Art Institute of Chicago
Open June 18 until Aug. 15, 2021
The Art Institute of Chicago is the first stop on a tour of the Obama portraits; a fitting choice for this iconic couple with a strong connection to the city. Check out Kehinde Wiley’s painting of former president Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s depiction of Michelle Obama, which are on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes at Museum of Science & Industry
Opens March 7 until Oct. 24, 2021
Celebrate 80 years of Marvel by visiting this interactive exhibit of more than 300 costumes, props, sculptures, artifacts, and displays from the original comic books to the mega-hit films. Learn about the story behind some of your favorite superheroes, such as Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and more, and how they’ve taken their place in the cultural landscape.
Ground Floor at Hyde Park Art Center
Opens Feb. 22, 2021
Discover new local artists at the latest iteration of Ground Floor, a decade-long exhibition that’s regularly reinvented with works from Chicago’s most promising emerging talent. The gallery is currently filled with the newest pieces by recent graduates of the city’s top MFA programs, giving visitors a glimpse of the cutting edge of the local art scene.
Frida Kahlo: Timeless at the McAninch Arts Center
Open June 5 through Sept. 6, 2021
Venture outside the city to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn to catch this immersive exhibit on the life and work of Frida Kahlo. The comprehensive show includes original works and historic artifacts, including Kahlo’s clothing, photographic images from her life, and a Kahlo-inspired garden.
Apsáalooke Women and Warriors at the Field Museum
Open now until July 18, 2021
The Apsáalooke (Ahp-SAH-luh-guh) people of the Northern Plains, also known as the Crow, are at the center of the Field Museum’s latest exhibit curated by Apsáalooke artists and scholars. Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of these powerful women and warriors, and observe art and artifacts from 100-year-old war shields to contemporary beadwork and fashion, and more.
Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Opens June 19 through Oct. 3, 2021
Explore under-recognized artists of color in this historic exhibit, tracing the evolution of comics in Chicago over the last 60 years. From newspapers to graphic novels to political activism, this exhibits features never-before-seen pieces that offer a more in-depth history of comics.
Mandela: Struggle for Freedom at Illinois Holocaust Museum
Open Feb. 20 until Sept. 12, 2021
This special exhibit traces both the life of human rights advocate Nelson Mandela and the history of apartheid in South Africa. The gallery includes dramatic replicas and original artifacts, including a multimedia theatre, a ballot box from the country’s first democratic elections, and an exact recreation of the jail cell where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.