10 Must-See Chicago Exhibitions

January 2019

Chicago's internationally renowned museums burst with insight and inspiration, with a packed schedule of special exhibitions throughout the year. Here are just 10 of the highlights.

1. 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

2. Stories of Survival: Object.Image.Memory


Illinois Holocaust Museum
9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, IL
(847) 967-4800

Museum admission: $15 Adults; $10 Seniors (65+), $8 Students (12-22); $6 Children (5-11)

Stories of Survival Illinois Holocaust Museum
Exhibit from Stories of Survival, courtesy the Illinois Holocaust Museum

Don’t miss the final weeks of this powerful exhibit. Stories of Survival contains more than 60 personal items brought to America by survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, including Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Syria. Many are everyday objects, such as a doll, a cookbook or a suitcase, but each carries significance and meaning. Each artifact is paired with photographs by renowned documentarian Jim Lommasson and handwritten reflections by survivors and their family.

3. West by Midwest


Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Ave.

(312) 280-2660

Suggested admission $15, students and teachers $8, seniors (65+) $8

A photo from West by Midwest at MCA
Jerry McMillan, Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan (self-portrait), and Ed Ruscha with Ed’s 39 Chevy, 1970. Courtesy the artist and Craig Krull Gallery.

This new exhibit traces the intersecting lives and works of artists who migrated from the Midwest to the West Coast since the mid-20th century. Featuring more than 80 artworks across mediums, West by Midwest illuminates the crisscrossing social, artistic and intellectual connections of 63 artists with Midwestern roots.


THROUGH JAN. 27, 2019

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
2320 W. Chicago Ave.
(773) 227-5522

$5 suggested donation
Increment Exhibit at Ukranian Institute of Modern Art

Strata, 2017, courtesy Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art​

An increment is a small step forward, a slow progress that creates a measured change. In this exhibit, three artists explore these often-overlooked increments and the ensuring transformation caused by them. The exhibit will showcase works from Barbara Cooper, Shona Macdonald, and Yoonshin Park.

5. Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow

THROUGH Feb. 10, 2019

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
756 N. Milwaukee Ave.

(312) 243-9088

$5 suggested donation

Exhibit at the Intuit
Works by Dr. Charles Smith on loan from John Michael Kohler Arts Center, gift of the Kohler Foundation Inc.

Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow explores Chicago’s rich history of self-taught art and artists. Culled from the works of 10 local artists, the exhibit explores themes of resilience, self expression, resistance to conventional ideals, and creating art outside of the mainstream. This exhibit is part of Art Design Chicago.

6. South Side Stories—The Art and Influence of Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs


DuSable Museum of African American History
740 E. 56th Place
(773) 947-0600

Admission: $8 for adults, $5 for students, $2 for children age 6 to 11

DuSable Museum of African American History
Courtesy DuSable Museum of African American History

An artist, creator, activist and founder, Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs imparted a rich legacy upon Chicago. This exhibit explores that legacy and offers a nuanced understanding of how Burroughs work influenced other artists and cultural awareness on Chicago’s south side. This exhibit is part of Art Design Chicago and is presented in partnership with the Smart Museum of Art as part of South Side Stories.

7. Bob Dylan: Electric

Through 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.

8. Mummies


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

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

Mummies at the Field Museum
Courtesy the Field Museum

Learn about ancient life through cutting-edge technology that peels back the layers of time. This limited-time exhibit explores mummies from ancient Peru and Egypt and the lives those people lived. Using non-invasive scanning technology, scientists have been able to digitally unveil the stories hidden inside the gilded coffins. Explore these stories with interactive displays and dozens of objects, including mummy masks, intricate tombs, mummified animals and more.

9. Tomma Abts


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

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

Tomma Abts Art Institute of Chicago
Tomma Abts. Fimme, 2013. Collection of Sascha S. Bauer. Courtesy of greengrassi, London. © Tomma Abts

The first solo museum of the artist’s paintings in the U.S. in a decade gives visitors a unique opportunity to explore Abts’s work. The London-based artist is known for her powerful and hypnotic images, along with her rigorous approach to producing acrylic and oil-on-canvas paintings. This exhibit showcases more than 30 of her recent works and highlights the intricacies of the artists vision and process.


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

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