Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL. 312-443-3600. www.artic.edu
$12, children under 12 are free. Parking available in nearby garages (fee). Stroller accessible. Restrooms with changing tables available.
Free Thursdays from 5-8 p.m.
When we vacationed in Chicago this summer, the Art Institute was a spot I definitely wanted to make for very one specific reason: while living in Iowa, I had become a fan of Grant Wood’s art, and the famous American Gothic is housed at the Art Institute of Chicago.
We ended a Thursday in downtown Chicago at the Art Institute (which, not coincidentally, had free admission on Thursday evenings). Our first stop was in the Kraft Education Center, where guidebooks had advised stopping for information on seeing the museum with children. We got more than we bargained for. We were led to an activity room where there were supplies for each child to make his or her own collage picture, and then shown the family room, where there were picture books about arts, blocks for building, and most importantly for us, puzzles of artwork from the Institute, including American Gothic.
Our kids have been to a lot of museums, but not a lot of art museums, so I was pleasantly surprised when they picked up quickly on the terminology (galleries) and themes (these are all Jesus pictures), and behavior (keeping their voices appropriately low for the most part). Although we kept the strollers moving at a steady pace, we saw almost all of the galleries while on our quest for American Gothic.
Finally, we found our “I Spy” piece and the kids were thrilled. (They still talk about it and get excited when they see replicas or spoofs of the painting.) All in all, we spent about an hour and a half at the Art Institute–not nearly enough time to do it justice, but a decent amount of time to give some young children gradual exposure to a variety of art pieces. I would not hesitate to return there with the kids.
Too bad Chicago’s a day’s drive away!
I really liked going in the children’s place where they had all the crafts.
I liked doing the “I spy with my little eye” and finding American Gothic.