Submitted by Jeff Buster on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 22:36.

When I visited The Art Institute of Chicago there was an icy rain coming in off of Lake Michigan.  The sky was slate gray and at two in the afternoon the headlights and tail lights of the cars on South Michigan Avenue reflected off the shiny wet asphalt as I crossed.   Getting inside the warm lobby of the museum felt good.   A $12.00 ticket provides entry to the galleries.  I hadn’t been here before – I had pleasant surprises ahead.


The first pleasant surprise was to find that the institute  provides  a special opportunity to its visitors – contrary to the policy of many museums (including the Cleveland Museum of Art)  photography is allowed in Institute galleries.   There are a few caveats – flash is not allowed, nor are tripods.  And only the art which belongs to the Institute can be photographed – traveling exhibits not owned by the Institute are off limits to photography. 


When I entered the Institute I didn’t see the sign which clarifies the allowance policy, but in  the first gallery I stepped into there were cameras clicking away in plain view to the guards…so I asked a guard about the Institute’s policy and learned that the Institute sees photography as a client interaction which the public finds important, pleasant, and memory enhancing.   Maybe this policy is in response to the fact that the Institute is both an art school and an art museum. 


I had a great time casually lining up different members of the public with world-renowned art.  The art became very “contemporary” and the time between its creation and its viewing shrunk to nothing.   Couples set themselves in front of their favorite paintings and had their photo snapped by their friends.  The juxtaposition of  Mr. And Ms. Regular Person in front of masterpieces really felt right – the artists would surely smile from their graves knowing that viewers were having such a good time.  The public was truly “getting into” their museum experience.   This place was alive.


The second pleasant surprise came from the positioning of carefully selected art and sculpture  within several of the viewing spaces.  The form and shape of specific sculptures were set in a relationship with one or more of the wall hung paintings in a gallery to subtly emphasize form, color, and mood.  The curator(s) are to be complimented in their genius.


Along with many others, I had a very enjoyable visit

Chicago-Museum-of-Art--bere.jpg302.02 KB
Chicago-Museum-of-Art-bull-.jpg275.74 KB
Chicago-Museum-of-Art-photo.jpg172.29 KB
Chicago-Museum-of-Art--rive.jpg223.52 KB
Chicago-Museum-of-Art--umbr.jpg250.08 KB
Chicago-Museum-of-Art--whee.jpg305.56 KB


  Jeff, how funny that you posted this image of a rainy Parisian scene.  A good friend of mine just mentioned how she felt that Paris was the best designed and laid out city in Europe (possibly the world) and that distinction is obvious because--it is still a beautiful city on a rainy, dreary day.