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10 Must-See Chicago Exhibitions

November 2018 Edition

Chicago's internationally renowned museums burst with insight and inspiration, with a packed schedule of special exhibitions throughout the year. In November, many exhibitions are part of Art Design Chicagoa spirited celebration of Chicago’s diverse cultures, and the art and design legacy they have brought into being. 

Here are just 10 of the highlights.

1. Bob Dylan: Electric

Nov. 16, 2018 – April 30, 2019

American Writers Museum
180 N. Michigan Ave., 2nd Floor
(312) 374-8790

General Admission: $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, free for children

A rendering of the Bob Dylan exhibit at the Writer's Museum
A rendering of the Bob Dylan exhibit, courtesy American Writers Museum.

This temporary exhibit honors the enduring influence of Bob Dylan on American culture, music and writing. It will explore the American bluesmen and folk singers that influenced Dylan, as well as the new writers and musicians that have been inspired by Dylan’s music. One highlight of the exhibit will be rarely-shown Fender electric guitar that Dylan played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. It will also cover the story of Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

2. YASUHIRO ISHIMOTO: SOMEDAY, CHICAGO

Through DEC. 16, 2018

DePaul Art Museum
935 W Fullerton Ave (Lincoln Park/DePaul)
773-325-7506

FREE Admission

Art Design Chicago
Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Untitled, Chicago (El Over River) (detail), c. 1950. DePaul Art Museum

Japanese-American photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto has strong ties with Chicago. Not only did he make Chicago his home for more than a decade, but he also developed his unique, yet signature, modernist vision while here. Someday, Chicago traces Ishimoto's arrival in Chicago, his documentation of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, and his influence over an entire generation of artists in Japan. The exhibition is part of Art Design Chicago

3. Brewing Up Chicago: How Beer Transformed a City

Nov. 2, 2018 – Jan. 5, 2020

Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
(312) 922-9410

General admission: $24 for adults, $17 for children

A photo of 1800s-era brewers in Chicago.
Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum, ICHi-01694.

Beer is inextricably linked to the history of Chicago. This exhibit will trace the city’s brewing background as it transformed from a trading outpost to a major metropolis. Visitors will learn how local brewing practices were impacted by major events, like the Great Chicago Fire and the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and how these changes shaped both the beer and the city.

4. Todros Geller: Strange Worlds

Through January 6, 2019

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
610 S Michigan Ave
312-322`1700

FREE Admission

Todros Geller - Art Design Chicago
Todros Geller, The Dance, 1928, oil on canvas, 17 x 20 in., Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, Chicago.​

Geller was an influential Chicago artist and a central figure in modern American Jewish art history. His work reflects the prevailing social, political and artistic concerns of his era, while being intimately connected to Chicago's Jewish community. The exhibition reveals the broad scope of Geller's work, and includes paintings, prints, works on paper and personal materials. The exhibition is part of Art Design Chicago

5.  SOUTH SIDE STORIES: THE TIME IS NOW! ART WORLDS OF CHICAGO’S SOUTH SIDE, 1960-1980

Through DEC. 30, 2018

Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago
5550 S Greenwood Ave
773-702-0200

FREE Admission

Gerald Williams, Messages, 1970, Acrylic on canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2017.8.Gerald Williams, Messages, 1970, Acrylic on canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2017.8.

The Time is Now! explores the influence of the South Side’s art community on city culture of the 1960s and 1970s. Artists who made the South Side their home and inspiration charted new art courses, challenged the political status quo, and ultimately helped to reimagine the future. Note: This exhibition is presented in partnership with the DuSable Museum of African American History. The exhibition is part of Art Design Chicago

6. HAIRY WHO? 1966-1969

Through JAN. 6, 2019

Art Institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave
312-443-3600

General Admission: $25; Thursdays free admission for Illinois residents

Karl Wirsum, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (detail), 1968. The Art Institute of Chicago
Karl Wirsum, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (detail), 1968. The Art Institute of Chicago

This is the first major, comprehensive retrospective to focus exclusively on the groundbreaking Hairy Who of the 1960s, held on the 50th anniversary of the group’s final Chicago show. This self-named, self-organized group of six artists – Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca and Karl Wirsum – presented six exhibitions across the country over the course of four years ... and that alone was enough to create lasting influence. Together, their inventive and outrageous artwork, comic books, and posters transformed the artistic landscape on an international scale. The exhibition is part of Art Design Chicago

7. PICTURES FROM AN EXPOSITION: VISUALIZING THE 1893 WORLD’S FAIR

Through DEC. 31, 2018

Newberry Library
60 W Walton St
312-943-9090

FREE Admission

Art Design Chicago
Hubert Howe Bancroft, A Summer Day at the Exposition from “The Book of the Fair” (detail), 1893. The Newberry Library

As one of the most spectacular events in an age of spectacular events, the World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, captured imaginations and exalted senses the country over. The current exhibition features works of art, manuscripts, books and ephemera from the Newberry Library’s collection to provide a glimpse into the multifaceted realms of the World’s Fair.

About Newberry Library: The Newberry is a world-renowned independent research library, providing access to a noncirculating collection of rare books, maps, music, manuscripts, and other printed material spanning six centuries. 

8. THE MANY HATS OF RALPH ARNOLD: ART, IDENTITY AND POLITICS

Through DEC. 21, 2018

Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago
600 S Michigan Ave
312-663-5554

FREE Admission

Art Design Chciago
Ralph Arnold, Who You/Yeah Baby (detail) c. 1968. DePaul Art Museum, Reproduced with permission from The Pauls Foundation

The 60s and 70s were tumultuous decades socially and racially. During this time, prolific artist Ralph Arnold created collages that appropriated and commented on the manner in which mass media portrayed gender, sexuality, race and politics. The Many Hats of Ralph Arnold explores the artist’s complex visual arrangements and mixed media presentations (including photography, painting and text), building upon his own identity as a black, gay veteran and prominent member of the Chicago arts community. The exhibition is part of Art Design Chicago

9. AFRICAN AMERICAN DESIGNERS IN CHICAGO: ART, COMMERCE AND THE POLITICS OF RACE

Through MARCH 3 2019

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E Washington St
312-744-3316

FREE Admission

Art Design Chicago
Robert Savon Pious, American Negro Exposition (detail), 1940. Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago

African American designers exerted formidable influence over Chicago’s creative world, as the Chicago Cultural Center’s fall exhibition shows. Featuring a wide range of work, from cartooning and sign painting to illustration and product design, “this exhibition is the first to demonstrate how African American designers remade the image of the black consumer and the work of the black artist in a major hub of American advertising and consumer culture.” The exhibition is part of Art Design Chicago

10. MODERN BY DESIGN: CHICAGO STREAMLINES AMERICA

Through DECEMBER 2, 2019

Chicago History Museum
1601 N Clark St
312-642-4600

General Admission: $19; Tuesdays 12:30-9pm free to Illinois residents

Art Design Chicago
Coffee set, designed by Michael McArdle and made by the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, 1935. Chicago History Museum​

Chicago’s creative influence cannot be understated. The Chicago History Museum’s exhibition showcases more than 200 objects, photographs and documents dating from the 1930s-1950s to reveal the scale of Chicago’s impact on the world of design, manufacturing and mass production. The exhibition is part of Art Design Chicago

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