Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s great art museums, housing an extraordinary collection of objects from across places, cultures, and time. The Art Institute has been named the #1 destination in Chicago by TripAdvisor, and is the only museum in the world to be consistently top-ranked by the travel site.

The original Michigan Avenue building, which is flanked by Edward Kemeys’s iconic bronze lions, was constructed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the World’s Fair. Now home to more than 300,000 works of art spanning five millennia, the Art Institute welcomes 1.7 million visitors a year from all over the world. In addition to its wide-ranging and dynamic collection, the Art Institute presents more than 40 special exhibitions annually that demonstrate the museum’s unique identity as a mirror of Chicago’s community and a window to the world. Located next to Millennium Park and just steps away from Maggie Daley Park, Michigan Avenue, the shores of Lake Michigan, the museum is the perfect place to spend the day.

Edward Kemeys’ bronze lions guard the Michigan Avenue entrance

Permanent collection

The Art Institute is home to a world-renowned collection of art. From famous favorites to lesser-known gems from every corner of the globe, there’s something for everyone at the museum.

The museum’s holdings of late 19th-century French Impressionism are among the largest and finest in the world and feature some of the most well-known and well-loved works in the museum, including Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Two Sisters (On the Terrace). Other beloved works in the collection include Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Vincent van Gogh’s The Bedroom, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky above Clouds IV.

The museum’s Modern Wing, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, is home to an extraordinary collection of works by Chagall, Dalí, Matisse, Picasso, and Pollock, among others. Also on view in the Modern Wing are iconic contemporary works from the Edlis Neeson Collection, including Andy Warhol’s Liz #3 [Early Colored Liz], Takashi Murakami’s Mr. Pointy, Jasper Johns’s Target, and works by Jeff Koons, Cy Twombly, Roy Lichtenstein, and many others.

Other treasures in the museum’s collection include the Thorne Miniature Rooms — charming small-scale recreations of historic interiors, one of the finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints in the world, medieval and Renaissance arms and armor, eye-catching paperweights, textiles from around the world, and so much more.

The Modern Wing’s Bluhm Terrace overlooks Millennium Park and the downtown Chicago

Mobile app & audio tours

Take advantage of free Wi-Fi at the museum to download the Art Institute’s free mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices. Your personal, pocket-sized guide to the collection, the new mobile experience merges location-aware technology with audio storytelling, letting the art speak to you. Audio guides in English, French, Spanish, and Chinese are available to rent, along with translated brochures.

Visitors learn about Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte —1884

Programs & events

With gallery tours, lectures, performances, and special events throughout the year, there are countless opportunities to explore the museum. Visit the calendar to see what’s happening and plan your visit. Families can stop by the free Ryan Learning Center to find art-making activities and create a customized tour using the award-winning interactive JourneyMaker, plus enjoy family-friendly festivals, workshops, and classes throughout the year.

Dining & shopping

From gourmet meals and fine dining to casual lunches and quick pick-me-ups, the Art Institute offers visitors a variety of dining options. The Balcony Café, overlooking the Modern Wing’s Griffin Court, is a convenient quick-order dining spot that serves snacks, desserts, and a variety of beverages. The Museum Café is a vibrant, family-friendly dining space that offers a host of healthy and delicious options. Terzo Piano, the museum’s fine-dining restaurant located in the Modern Wing, combines bold Mediterranean flavors with organic, farm-sourced ingredients.

Stop by one of the museum’s on-site stores after your visit and pick up an affordable print, exhibition catalogue, or a gift inspired by one of your favorite artists. No time to shop during your visit? You can always shop online.

Visit artic.edu for more information on hours, admission, and exhibitions.