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Gallery Guichard
Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

DNC Guide: Art

Immerse yourself in an acclaimed arts scene

Chicago is proud to welcome visitors from around the world to our great city for the Democratic National Convention 2024. While you’re here, we invite you to come experience what makes Chicago a city like no other — and why we’ve been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for an unprecedented seven years in a row.

With countless art experiences around every corner, Chicago’s arts scene is a vibrant canvas to be explored. We’re home to bustling gallery districts, world-renowned art museums, and an array of public works that bring art out into the city streets. Here’s a curated list of galleries, museums, and art events to experience in Chicago.

We’ve created these Chicago guides with five specially curated activities to help DNC visitors experience different aspects of our great city. To delve deeper and make the most out of your time in Chicago, keep exploring with our guide at the link below.

Explore our art and museum guide to Chicago

1. Tour the Art Institute of Chicago

Friends explore a gallery in the Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago;
Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

The renowned Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country. It’s a must-visit destination for any art enthusiast, boasting a world-class collection that spans thousands of years and includes everything from ancient artifacts to modern masterpieces.

First built in 1893, the museum’s stunning building was designed as the only permanent structure for the Chicago World’s Fair. Today, the Art Institute houses one of the largest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art on the planet outside the Louvre.

This summer, the Art Institute is hosting Georgia O’Keeffe: “My New Yorks”, the first exhibition to comprehensively examine O’Keeffe’s paintings, drawings, and pastels of urban landscapes. It’s an essential stop on any cultural tour of the city.

2. Be mesmerized at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation view, Nicole Eisenman: What Happened, MCA Chicago. April 06 – September 22, 2024. Photo: Shelby Ragsdale, © MCA Chicago

With its ever-changing exhibitions, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) offers a fresh perspective on the works of living artists, pushing the boundaries of creativity and challenging visitors’ perceptions.

One of the world’s largest museums dedicated to contemporary art, the museum collection features more than 2,000 examples of visual art from 1920 to the present, with a strong focus on surrealism, minimalism, conceptual photography, and work by Chicago-based artists.

Wander the captivating exhibit halls before spending time in the curated gift shop and sculpture garden with views of Lake Michigan. And make sure to check the museum’s calendar for thought-provoking events, discussions, and performances.

3. Discover art from around the world

National Museum Of Puerto Rican Arts
National Museum Of Puerto Rican Arts; photo by Abel Arciniega :: @tequilagraphics

Chicago’s cultural art museums, featuring artworks from across the globe, are a testament to the city’s rich heritage and international artistic communities.

At the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, discover avant-garde masterpieces that explore the crossroads of Ukrainian and American art.

The National Museum of Mexican Art is a free museum in the heart of Pilsen that immerses visitors in Mexican culture through a stunning collection of textiles, folk art, prints, photos, and more.

The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture celebrates the artistic spirit of the Puerto Rican community through a colorful array of exhibitions and programs.

Delve into the treasures made of bronze, jade, textiles, and beyond at the Heritage Museum of Asian Art, where centuries-old artifacts meet contemporary works from across Asia.

And don’t miss Gallery Guichard, which offers a window into the Black diaspora with art that reflects the depth and diversity of Black culture.

4. Surround yourself with public art

Art on theMART

Chicago’s streets are alive with a vivid tapestry of public art and murals, transforming neighborhoods into open-air galleries.

With around 20 large-scale murals condensed into a seven-block stretch along Wabash Avenue in the South Loop, the Wabash Arts Corridor is something of a mecca for street art devotees.

What started as a community project has skyrocketed into a full-blown mural movement in the heart of Pilsen, where the streets explode with color. And Humboldt Park’s Paseo Boricua is covered in artwork that pays homage to the area’s Puerto Rican heritage.

In the heart of the Loop, the innovative Art on THE MART transforms a historic riverfront building into a colossal canvas of light and creativity. This free nightly show is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world.

Finally, you can’t leave Chicago without seeing one of our most iconic works of art — “The Bean.” The monumental work of art anchors downtown Millennium Park and reflects the city’s famous skyline and the surrounding green space. Other famous sculptures in the Loop include The Picasso, Flamingo, Monument with Standing Beast, and more.

5. Return to Chicago for art fairs and events

EXPO CHICAGO; Image Courtesy of EXPO CHICAGO. Photo by Justin Barbin

Chicago’s art scene is a revolving celebration of creativity, with events that beckon art enthusiasts to return time and again. The city buzzes with open gallery nights at spaces like Bridgeport Art Center, Zhou B Art Center, the Fine Arts Building, the Cornelia Arts Building, the Bronzeville Art District, and more.

Summer brings art out into the streets, with a full schedule of neighborhood art fairs, artisan markets, and beyond. A few of the most popular include the Old Town Art Fair and Wells Street Art Festival, Uptown Art Walk, 57th Street Art Fair, and Logan Square Arts Fest.

Finally, if you’re an art connoisseur, you won’t want to miss EXPO Chicago. This premiere international exhibition is a must-see showcase of contemporary and modern art held at iconic Navy Pier each spring.

Explore all Chicago DNC Guides