Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Chicago , Illinois
Tel: 312 443 3600
Concierge.com's insider take:
It takes several days to navigate this superb museum housing some 260,000 artworks—including some of the world's most famous masterpieces: Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, and Grant Wood's American Gothic. There's an extensive Impressionist collection, and Asian holdings spanning five millennia that include one of the world's finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints. Don't miss the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room (a reconstruction of the Chicago Stock Exchange trading floor) or the Thorne Miniature Rooms, dollhouse-size re-creations of European and American interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s.
The museum's steps are home to two photogenic lions (circa 1893) and provide a first-rate spot for people-watching. The even better spot, though, may be the Renzo Piano–designed Modern Wing of the Art Institute, which has helped draw a fresh crowd of art-lovers to the venerable museum since its 2009 inauguration. Like a big gulp of fresh air after the dark galleries of the original building, the wing is a homage to natural light. A flying carpet of aluminum blades mounted on the glass roof, a staircase suspended on slender rods, and high picture windows set a buoyant, clean tone for the collection of postwar and contemporary art, which includes all the approved masters, from Jasper Johns to Gerhard Richter and David Hockney. An additional big plus is Terzo Piano, a contemporary Italian-accented brasserie, headed by hometown former Top Chef contender Tony Matuano; the restaurant finally offers the hangout the Institute always needed.—Updated by Raphael Kadushin
Open Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays 10:30 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 10:30 am to 8 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.