Things to do at museums and galleries in ChicagoMary Houlihan – For the Sun-Timeson October 13, 2021 at 11:52 pm

An installation by Monika Wulfers at the Neon and Light Museum. | Provided

Chicago is home to some of the world’s greatest museums. Use our guide to find events and activities happening at the city’s many galleries and exhibits.

Welcome to our highlights of events and entertainment in Chicago at our city’s best museums and galleries. Bookmark this page and check back for updates on the latest activities.

‘Tony Fitzpatrick: Jesus of Western Avenue’

When: Oct. 16-Jan. 31

Where: Cleve Carney Museum of Art, McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell, Glen Ellyn

What: xxx

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit theccma.org.

College of DuPage/Cleve Carney Museum of Art
Tony Fitzpatrick, “Dandelion,” 1995, color etching.

More than 60 mixed-media works reflect the artist’s connection to Chicago, his social and political concerns and our shared changing reality. “It’s fitting that I have my final museum exhibition not far from where my work started [at College of DuPage]. It’s fitting that it happens in a museum named for my dear friend and supporter Cleve Carney; he was a grand guy,” Fitzpatrick says. “I chose to make art, not for a living, but for a life. Cleve chose to create opportunity and possibility for artists — myself being one of them.” Admission is free.

National Indo-American Museum

Provided
National Indo-American Museum

When: Oct. 16-March 27

Where: 815 S, Main, Lombard

What: This museum, which builds bridges across generations and connects cultures, opens with the exhibit “E/Merge: Art of the Indian Diaspora.” Featured are cutting-edge works by nine emerging artists: Avantika Bawa, Sarika Goulatia, Sreshta Rit Premnath, Kaveri Raina, Nandita Raman, Surabhi Saraf, Kuldeep Singh, Neha Vedpathak and Kushala Vora. Admission: $5.

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit niam.org.

‘Kandinsky: The Rediscovered Bauhaus Sketchbook’

When: Oct. 16-Nov. 7

Where: 2320 W. Chicago

What: The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art presents 15 pages of a newly authenticated sketchbook used by the great Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky, known as the creator of the first modern abstract paintings. The sketchbook dates from 1922, when he was teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Admission: $5.

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit uima-chciago.org.

‘The Chicago Reader at 50: A Half Century of Revolutionary Storytelling’

Chicago Reader
The first edition of the Chicago Reader from 1971

When: Oct. 6-Jan. 21

Where: Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton

What: It’s time to celebrate a milestone anniversary for The Chicago Reader with a new exhibit looking at the newspaper’s founding and evolution as print journalism faced the challenges of today. The exhibit features a multimedia display of stories, photographs, cartoons and more. Admission is free.

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit newberry.org

‘Chicago Ukrainians in the 1950s’

Ukrainian National Museum
A photo by Petro Oleksijenko

When: To Nov. 30

Where: Ukrainian National Museum, 2249 W. Superior

What: A new exhibition features 40 photos by Ukrainian-American photographer Petro Oleksijenko. The photos showcase the Ukrainian people, their rallies, holidays, celebrations, businesses and everyday life. Admission: $10.

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit ukrainiannationalmuseum.org.

‘Last Week Tonight Masterpiece Gallery’

HBO
John Oliver displays a portrait of Wendy Williams from the “Last Week Tonight” art collection.

When: Oct. 2-26

Where: 360 N. State

What: The Museum of Broadcast Communications is one of five museums to win a national competition to display three artworks from comedian John Oliver’s HBO series. In addition, the museum also received $10,000 and the Greater Chicago Food Depository received the same. It’s Oliver’s creative way of helping smaller museums impacted by the pandemic as well as helping local food banks. Admission is free; visitors are asked to bring a donation of a canned or boxed food item.

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit museum.tv.

‘Who Says, Who Shows, What Counts’

(C) Fred Wilson. Image courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery
Fred Wilson’s “Untitled (Venice Biennale),” featured in “Who Says, Who Shows, What Counts.”

When: To Dec. 5

Where: 40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston

What: Northwestern University’s Block Museum marks its 40th anniversary and the reopening of its galleries with “Who Says, Who Shows, What Counts,” an exhibit featuring 80 new acquisitions highlighting new collecting strategies and diverse narratives. Admission is free.

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit blockmuseum.northwestern.edu.

‘Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works by Sullivan & Wright’

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago
Photo by unknown photographer, Richard Nickel at the Garrick Theatre in midst of an interview with unidentified journalist, c. 1960.

When: Sept. 24-Dec. 18

Where: Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood

What: This two-part exhibit explores long-gone architectural masterpieces: Louis H. Sullivan’s Garrick Theatre in Chicago and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York. Included are 3D models and digital re-creations of the original edifices; salvaged architectural ornaments and artifacts; original furniture; historical documentation of the design, construction and demise of the buildings and archival photographs taken by noted preservationist Richard Nickel. Tickets: $15, available online only.

More information: For updated information regarding the gallery’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit wrightwood659.org.

‘Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.’

Digital image courtesy of the artist
Barbara Kruger. Untitled (Truth), 2013.

When: Sept. 19-Jan. 24

Where: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan

What: The Art Institute presents a major solo exhibition devoted to the work of Barbara Kruger, a conceptual artist known for combining images and type that raise questions about our relationship to consumerism, society and more. The exhibit includes early work and rarely seen paste-ups of the early 1980s, which reveal her process, to her digital productions of the last two decades. Admission: $14-$25. (Also Art on the Mart is projecting a selection of Kruger’s work on the facade of the Merchandise Mart through Nov. 25.)

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit artic.edu.

‘Chicago Avant-Garde’

Sun-Times file
Dancer Katherine Dunham

When: To Dec. 30

Where: Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton

What: This interesting new exhibit puts the spotlight on five women whose lives and careers embodied a uniquely Chicago style of avant-garde creativity in 1930s-1950s: artist Gertrude Abercrombie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, dancers Katherine Dunham and Ruth Page and curator Katharine Kuh. “All five women challenged social constraints — based on their gender, their race, or both — to subvert convention and find beauty and freedom in their art,” says curator Liesl Olson. The exhibit includes paintings, photographs, posters, dance costumes and rare video footage. Admission is free.

More information: For updated information regarding the museum’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit newberry.org.

The Neon and Light Museum

When: Through Oct. 31

Where: 325 W. Huron

What: This pop-up features an immersive exhibition of nearly 70 neon and light-based sculptures. Among the highlights are John Bannon’s 14-foot-tall neon sculpture “Breathe,” Monika Wulfer’s installation “Circle’s Edge” and an iconic neon self-portrait by John Lennon. Other artists include feminist neon artist Zoelle Nagib, pop sign artist Jason Pickleman, projected light specialist Gary Justis, abstract artist sculptor Michael Young and more. Tickets: $40+, reservations required.

More information: For vaccination and/or mask policies, visit neonandlightmuseum.com.

‘Dias de Muertos: A Time to Grieve & Remember’

Courtesy of the artist
George Rodriguez, “Mictlantecuhtli Offering,” 2020, ceramic installation, is featured in the exhibit “Dias de Muertos: A Time to Grieve & Remember.”

When: Sept. 10-Dec. 12

Where: 1852 W. 19th

What: This year’s Day of the Dead exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art pays tribute to and remembers the many individuals from Mexico and the U.S. who have died from COVID-19. An annual time-honored tradition in Mexico, the Day of the Dead offers a way to join together to grieve and celebrate the lives of loved ones. The exhibit is a way to contemplate this moment via artworks and installations by artists from both sides of the border. Among those creating installations are Sandra Cisneros, Hector Duarte, Alejandro Garcia Nelo, Enrique Garcia and the Yollacalli Arts Center. These colorful displays sit alongside artwork by a long list of Mexican and Mexican American artists. Admission is free.

More information: For vaccination and/or mask policies, visit nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org.

‘American Epidemic: Guns in the United States’

Provided
“Untitled (Death by Gun),” by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1990)

When: Sept. 10-Feb. 20

Where: 600 S. Michigan

What: The Museum of Contemporary Photography presents an exhibit that brings together work by nine artists who examine the past three decades of gun culture in the United States. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Carolyn Drake, Zora J Murff, Stephen Foster, Renee Stout, Hank Willis Thomas, Kambui Olujimi, Nancy Floyd and Andres Gonzalez use photography to approach the topic from a wide range of perspectives. “We hope this exhibition lays bare the persistent epidemic of gun violence in this country,” said Karen Irvine, MoCP chief curator and deputy director. “These artists point us towards nuanced ways of reckoning with this tragic — and uniquely American — plight.” Admission is free.

More information: For vaccination and/or mask policies, visit mocp.org.

Future Fossils: SUM

Courtesy of the artist
A “Future Fossils: SUM” piece by Lan Tuazon

When: Sept. 7-Nov. 13

Where: 5020 S. Cornell

What: This is the final sculpture installation in Lan Tuazon’s decade-long trilogy of work that visualizes the lifespan of our material goods. The Chicago artist calls her process “documentary sculpture.” Common packaged goods, tchotchkes and household items are accumulated, dissected and layered to give an accounting of the unseen byproduct of consumption. Tuazon offers visitors an encounter with a future house — one constructed solely with recovered materials — built to scale and exhibited from inside the two-story gallery at the Hyde Park Art Center. Admission is free.

More information: For vaccination and/or mask policies, visit hydeparkart.org.

‘Bani Abidi: The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared’

Courtesy of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
Bani Abidi’s watercolor “The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared.”

When: To June 5

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago

What: Two decades of the work of multidisciplinary Pakistani artist Bani Abidi are brought together for this exhibition. Informed by her upbringing in Karachi and experiences in cities including Chicago, where she studied at the School of the Art Institute, Abidi, a master storyteller, uses video, photography, sound and installation to uncover the influence of cultural and political power struggles on everyday life. Admission: $15.

More information: For vaccination and/or mask policies, visit mcachicago.org.

‘Chicago Works: Caroline Kent’

Nathan Keay, (C) MCA Chicago
The Museum of Contemporary Art presents “Chicago Works: Caroline Kent,” the first solo museum exhibition of work by the multidisciplinary Chicago-based artist.

When: To April 3

Where: 220 E. Chicago

What: The Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first solo museum exhibition of work by the multidisciplinary Chicago-based artist. In this site-specific installation, Kent explores the abbreviated forms of communication that develop in intimate relationships such as those between sisters. Inspired by the experience of communicating with her own twin, she transfers her visual language to painting, sculpture and installation. Admission: $15.

More information: mcachicago.org

‘The Art of Banksy’

The Art of Banksy
Banksy’s “Flower Thrower”

When: To Oct. 31

Where: 360 N. State

What: The identity of the artist known as Banksy has for years been the art world’s most intriguing mystery. But while we don’t know the man, we do know the art. The English-based street artist has created some of the most iconic images of the past few decades. A new exhibit brings more than 80 of these original works to Chicago. World-famous pieces from private collections including “Flower Thrower,” “Rude Copper” and “Girl with Balloon” will sit alongside other works rarely seen by the general public. As the artist-provocateur Banksy says: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Tickets: $40, $30 for 16 and younger.

More information: banksyexhibit.com

‘Helmut Jahn: Life + Architecture’

Chicago Architecture Center
“Helmut Jahn – Life + Architecture”

When: To Oct. 31

Where: 111 E. Wacker

What: Chicago Architecture Center presents a new exhibit honoring the late Chicago architect, which highlights his designs ranging from signature early projects like the Michigan City Public Library (1977) and the James R. Thompson Center (1985) to the Sony Center in Berlin (2000) and the Pritzker Military Archives Center, currently under construction in Somers, Wisconsin. Photography, models and sketches illuminate each project and explore the collaborative design and engineering process, while personal imagery, video and recollections by those who knew and worked with Jahn underscore his flair for the dramatic and zest for life. Admission is $15.

More information: architecture.org

‘Mimi Cherono Ng’ok: Closer to the Earth, Closer to My Own Body’

(C) Mimi Cherono Ng’ok
“Untitled” by Mimi Cherono Ng’ok

When: To Feb. 7

Where: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan

What: This new exhibit features the work of a photographer who travels extensively across the tropical climates on a mission to understand how natural environments, botanical cultures and human subjects coexist and evolve together. In this solo exhibit, she presents photographs and a film in which she tracked flowers and floral imagery across varied contexts and a range of hidden associations. Admission: $14-$22.

More information: artic.edu

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

When: Ongoing

Where: 2430 N. Cannon Dr.

What: The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where children of all ages can connect to nature and science, reopened July 8. Exhibits include “Without a Trace,” selections of photographs by Zbigniew Bzdak; “Patterns in Nature: A Bridge between Art and the Natural World,” mixed media work by artist Katherine Lampert; “Judy Istock Butterfly Haven,” “Birds of Chicago” and many more. Admission: $6-$9, children under 3 free.

More information: naturemuseum.org

‘Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40’

Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner and Regen Projects, Los Angeles (C) Toba Khedoori.
Toba Khedoori’s “Untitled” at the Smart Museum of Art.

“Toward Common Cause — Art, Social Change and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40” is a multi-museum venture organized by the Smart Museum of Art that explores the current sociopolitical moment, challenging questions of inclusion, exclusion, ownership and rights of access. In its gallery, the Smart Museum features works by Mark Bradford, Mel Chin, Nicole Eisenman, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jeffrey Gibson, Toba Khedoori, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Julie Mehretu, Fazal Sheikh and Xu Bing. From July 15-Dec. 19 at Smart Museum, University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood. Admission is free. Visit smartmuseum.uchciago.edu; for a list of participating museums visit towardcommoncause.org.

Stony Island Arts Bank’s contribution is “Towards Common Cause.” The group show features work by Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall, Gary Hill, Whitfield Lovell, Trevor Paglen, Deborah Willis, Dawoud Bey, Fred Wilson and Nicole Eisenman. From July 18-Dec. 19 at Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island. Admission is free. Visit rebuild-foundation.org.
The reopened DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl., participates with an exhibit of “Presenting Negro Scenes Drawn Upon My Passage through the South and Reconfigured for the Benefit of Enlightened Audiences Wherever Such May Be Found, By Myself, Missus K.E.B Walker, Colored,” a signature black silhouette installation from the artist Kara Walker. Admission: $3-$10 (Sundays free), children under 5 free. Visit: dusablemuseum.org.

Hyde Park Art Center

Provided/Courtesy of the artist
Mel Chin’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project

When: July 25-Oct. 24

Where: 5020 S. Cornell

What: Mel Chin’s Fundred Dollar Bill Project as well as works by LaToya Ruby Frazier and Fazal Sheikh are on display at the Hyde Park museum as part of “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40.” Chin’s 13-year-project, here titled “Chicago Fundred Initiative: A Bill for IL,” invites people to create their own “Fundred,” a form of currency that affirms the right of each maker to equal protection against lead contamination; Frazier’s film “Flint is Family” uses her photographs and voiceover by Flint, Michigan, resident Shea Cobb to understand the Flint water crisis; Sheikh’s landscape photography examines the connection between desertification, colonialism, and the displacement of Bedouin communities from ancestral lands in Israel’s Negev desert. Admission is free.

More information: hydeparkart.org

Weinberg/Newton Gallery

Wendy Ewald Collection
“My Friends are Picking Flowers,” by Salvador Gomez Jiminez

When: To Dec. 18

Where: 688 N. Milwaukee

What: As part of the Smart Museum’s ongoing initiative “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40,” the gallery presents work by Wendy Ewald and Amalia Mesa-Bains, whose projects focus on Latinx migration in Chicago. Ewald’s exhibit includes photographs and writings from a workshop where young students expressed their dreams and concerns about contemporary migration as well as photographs and a film made in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1991. Mesa-Bains offers an installation that is a personal and historical meditation on migration through the lens of her own family. Admission is free.

More information: For updated information regarding the gallery’s COVID-19 vaccination and/or mask policies, visit weinbergnewtongallery.com.

National Museum of Mexican Art

National Museum of Mexican Art Permanent Collection, gift of Chaz and Christina Bojorquez
“We the People” by Chaz Bojorquez

When: Ongoing

Where: National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th street

What: After being closed for 15 months, the museum has reopened with a handful of exhibits. “Spotlight on Chaz Bojorquez and Enrique Alferez” features the museum’s newest acquisition, “We the People,” a painting by Bojorquez, and Alferez’s iconic bronze sculpture “La Soldadera.” Plus “Adlateres and the Unexpected Journey: Works by Carmen Chami” features paintings inspired by Mexican Baroque painting and figurative style. Admission is free.

More information: nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org

‘Toward Common Cause’

(C) Njideka Akunyili Crosby
“Mother and Child,” Njideka Akunyili Crosby (2016). Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro and David Zwirner.

When: To Nov. 21

Where: National Public Housing Museum, 625 N. Kingsbury, and at the Minnie Riperton Apartments, 4250 S. Princeton

What: The National Public Housing Museum partners with the Chicago Housing Authority to display artwork by MacArthur Fellow Njideka Akunyili Crosby as part of “Toward Common Cause,” a multi-site exhibition organized by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program. Crosby uses acrylic, colored pencil and photo collages to create her distinctive portraits of African American life. “I almost want people to feel like the door is open and they’re walking by a scene into someone else’s life,” she says, “because that really is what I’m doing… mining my life to tell a story that is global but really wanting people to feel like they’re getting a glimpse into my world.” Crosby’s artwork installation is displayed on 70-foot banners on the sides of two buildings.

More information: nphm.org

‘Drawn to Combat: Bill Mauldin & the Art of War’

Copyright the Pritzker Military Museum & Library
Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Bill Mauldin

When: Through spring 2022

Where: 104 S. Michigan

What: Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Mauldin, who studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and was a cartoonist for the Chicago Sun-Times, is the subject of a retrospective at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. “Drawn to Combat” covers Mauldin’s career as a wartime cartoonist focusing on soldiers’ experiences and as a political cartoonist. The exhibit draws from more than 5,000 cartoons and objects donated to the museum by the Mauldin family. Tickets: $8, $10, children under 12 free.

More information: pritzkermilitary.org

‘Vivian Maier: In Color’

Gift of Jeffrey Goldstein/(C) The Estate of Vivian Maier
Vivian Maier, “Three Highland Park firemen,” Highland Park, August 1964, inkjet print.

When: To May 8, 2023

Where: Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark

What: Much has been heralded about street photographer Vivian Maier’s black-and-white photographs in exhibits, books and films. Now this multimedia exhibit features 65 color images made during her time as a suburban Chicago nanny from the 1950s to 1970s, many of which have never been seen before. Maier, who died in 2009, was a bit of a character and always had a Roloflex camera around her neck as she walked the streets snapping images of women, children, the old, the poor, the abstract. While her motives remain elusive, her photographs continue to speak volumes. Tickets: $17, $19.

More information: chicagohistory.org

Polish Museum of America

Courtesy Polish Museum of America
The Paderewki Collection at Polish Museum of America.

When: Ongoing

Where: 984 N. Milwaukee

What: The museum, since 1935 a repository for a wide variety of materials pertaining to Poland and the Polish-American community, has reopened after being shuttered for more than a year. Among the many permanent exhibits are “Polish Chicago 1850-1939,” “Folk Art Collection” and “The Paderewski Collection,” which documents the life of Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Tickets: $6-$10.

More information: polishmuseumofamerica.org

The Hartwell Memorial Window

The Art Institute of Chicago
The Hartwell Memorial Window bears a design attributed to Agnes F. Northrop of Tiffany Studios.

When: Permanent

Where: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan

What: A magnificent stained glass window made by Tiffany Studios in 1917 is now on permanent display at the Art Institute. The Hartwell Memorial Window, attributed to Agnes F. Northrop, Tiffany’s leading landscape window designer, was originally commissioned for a church as the gift of Mary L. Hartwell in memory of her husband Frederick W. Hartwell. It consists of 48 different panels, and is a scenic view of Mount Chocorua, a peak in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The window, located near the museum’s entrance, is one of the most ambitious landscape window projects produced by Tiffany. Museum admission: $14-$25.

More information: artic.edu

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

Friends of the Chicago River
Gears that open the bridge.

When: Ongoing

Where: 99 Chicago Riverwalk

What: This five-story museum celebrates the Chicago River and its world-famous movable bridges. Visitors explore a historic bridgehouse, watch the massive gears of a moving bridge and learn about the history of the Chicago River. Plus from the top floor, there’s a 360-degree view of the city and river. Find the museum at 99 Chicago Riverwalk. Admission: $5, $6; children 5 and under free.

More information: bridgehousemuseum.org

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