From international art expos to groundbreaking architectural installations, Chicago showcases its innovative creative spirit.


Chicago has an impressive history of creating influential art and architecture that resonates around the world. So, it’s no surprise that the city celebrates its creative legacy in a big way. Get the scoop on an exciting array of special events and exhibitions, from the largest contemporary art show in the Midwest to citywide architectural happenings, that showcase the best of Chicago design.




The annual EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, returns to Navy Pier from Sept. 13-17, 2017. Ushering in the international fall art season, EXPO CHICAGO hosts nearly 150 leading art galleries and institutions from more than 20 countries showcasing the works of global artists. Besides exhibits and art installations by emerging and established artists, EXPO CHICAGO offers forums with panel discussions by art critics and museum curators. There are also pop-ups from top Chicago restaurants and international beverage houses mixed in with the on-site programs and events.

Expo Art Week - Cultural Tourism Newsletter

In conjunction with EXPO CHICAGO, EXPO ART WEEK, held Sept. 11-17, 2017, will feature some of Chicago’s most prestigious institutions celebrating arts and culture through citywide museum exhibitions, gallery openings, outdoor installations and public art projects, as well as music, theater and dance performances. 



Chicago Cultural Center

Kicking off on Sept. 16, 2017 and running through Jan. 7, 2018, the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial is the realized vision of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Through a wide-ranging variety of exhibitions, full-scale installations and programming, the Chicago Architecture Biennial invites the public to engage with groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments in new and unexpected ways. Some 100 architects and artists from around the world have been invited to present their works built around the theme of Make New History. Although the hub of the Biennial is the downtown Chicago Cultural Center, more than 100 program partner organizations across the city will host related special events and exhibits (many of them free!), including Pilsen’s National Museum of Mexican Art, Hyde Park’s DuSable Museum of African American History and Humboldt Park’s National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. The opening of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will align with the sixth annual EXPO CHICAGO at Navy Pier.



Chicago Picasso

Chicago designated 2017 as The Year of Public Art, with citywide events and exhibitions that recognize and celebrate the city’s vibrant collection of permanent public art installations, including the towering Picasso sculpture in the Loop’s Daley Plaza, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in August. The city keeps the party going with the Public Art Festival, held throughout October 2017, which celebrates the past and future of Chicago’s citywide public art. A series of neighborhood programs and events are part of the festival, which includes the dedication of new 50x50 Neighborhood Arts Project pieces and highlights the importance of long-standing community artworks.



Open House Chicago

Have you ever walked by an interesting Chicago building and wished you could take a peek inside? You may get your chance during Open House Chicago, a free public festival hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation from Oct. 14-15, 2017. More than 200 architectural treasures and hidden gems throw their doors open for self-guided tours. Structures located in 20 different neighborhoods range from soaring skyscrapers to opulent mansions and exclusive private clubs, many of which are rarely open to the public. No tickets or registration are required, and you can build your own itinerary based on your must-sees.




This year marks the 50th anniversary of the MCA’s founding, and the museum is pulling out all the stops with a free weekend celebration called MCA Hearts Chicago, held Oct. 21-22, 2017. The event includes the launch of the museum’s new community space, dubbed the Commons, along with live music, artist talks and viewing of the three-part landmark exhibition We Are Here, which opens on Aug. 19, 2017 and showcases the MCA’s permanent collection of art from 1945 to today.

The MCA recently unveiled the results of its extensive $16 million redesign, which included 12,000 square feet of new public gathering spaces. Part of the renovation is the introduction of Marisol, a new street-level restaurant/bar featuring the contemporary American cuisine of Chicago Chef Jason Hammel and an immersive art installation by renowned British painter Chris Ofili.



Charles White, "Harvest Talk," 1953

Chicago’s enduring legacy of art and design is celebrated throughout 2018 during Art Design Chicago. More than 25 exhibitions and hundreds of public programs will be presented in museums, galleries, universities and other cultural organizations across Chicago. Helmed by the Terra Foundation for American Art, Art Design Chicago will examine the innovative art and design movements that were nurtured in Chicago during the period between the 1871 Great Chicago Fire and the turn of the 21st century, as well as celebrating Chicago’s artists, designers and creative producers. Planned exhibits include a focus on African American designers at the Chicago Cultural Center, an illustration of Chicago’s contributions to American design from the 1930s to early 1950s at the Chicago History Museum, and the largest exhibition solely dedicated to the influential group of artists known as the Hairy Who at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Images top to bottom: EXPO CHICAGO; EXPO ART WEEK; Chicago Cultural Center, Courtesy Chicago Architecture Biennial, 2017; Chicago Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza; Civic Opera House; Museum of Contemporary Art; Charles White, "Harvest Talk," 1953, courtesy Art Institute of Chicago

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