Art Institute

A visit to the Art Institute is a must-do for families visiting Chicago. This world-class museum will knock your socks off with its enormous collection of art - more than 260,000 pieces! This upcoming weekend, the Art Institute will host it's annual Family Festival, a full day of fun, artful activities for families. Here are 10 tips to make the most of your visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. 

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This year's Family Festival takes place on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Ryan Education Center. The theme this year is Making Place. Families will be invited to create art inspired by the exhibition Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye, learn about the beauty of community with performance group In the Spirit, and discover how architects use materials to bring their creative dreams to life in Materials Inside and Out. Take a peek at the day's schedule here. The Family Festival is free with museum admission. 

Admission for kids under age 14 is always free! If you plan on visiting the museum more than once this year, membership is a good option. Enjoy perks such as free admission, exclusive invites, and behind-the-scenes access. If you reside out-of-state, you'll receive an additional 10% off.

Art Institute

Sign up for the family programs e-newsletter at artic.edu/e-news. You'll be among the first to learn about upcoming exhibits and programs for families.

The Lions Trail Family Tour is a wonderful audio guide geared towards families with kids ages 5-10. It offers a great overview of the museums collections, with 32 stops along the way, and takes about an hour depending on your pace. Purchase your Lions Trail Family Tour for $7 at the audio guide counter in the Michigan Avenue or Modern Wing lobbies.

The Elizabeth Morse Touch Gallery gives visually impaired kids and adults the chance to discover art through touch: four specially treated sculptures from different time periods encourage everyone to explore the form, scale and texture through touch.

Dollhouse lovers with adore the Thorne Miniature Rooms, 68 mini-model rooms that highlight interiors from the 13th century through the 1930s. These Lilliputian interiors were the inspiration behind the fantastic children's book "The Sixty Eight Rooms" by Marianne Malone- check it out from your local library before your visit to see them in person!

Arms & Armor Art Institute

Fans of knights in shining armor will appreciate the Arms and Armor: Highlights of the Permanent Collection exhibit, which features full suits of armor, cannons and even a knight on horseback. Before you go,  the names and functions of the basic pieces of a suit of armor on this interactive website.

For family-friendly dining, you can't beat the museum's Terzo Piano, located in the new Modern Wing. The focus in this award-winning restaurant is on local, organic, and sustainable foods in Italian-inspired dishes. If the weather is nice enough, ask to be seated on the patio, where you'll be treated to an amazing city view. 

Shop the in-museum gift shops for thoughtful, art-inspired souvenirs. The unique toys and books for children make for fun and educational holiday gifts.

Before or after your visit to the Art Institute, consolidate learning via the fun online stories and games at Curious Corner.

Photos: Adam Alexander; Arms and Armor courtesy of The Art Institute