Chicago Arts are highlighted by the magnificent Art Institute of Chicago. One visit and you’ll see why books have been written about it. And there is so much more to this world-class city of the arts.
Art Institute of Chicago
DESCRIPTION: One of the great art museums of America, AIC presents vast permanent collections spanning more than 5,000 years of artistic expression from all corners of the globe. See rare paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, architectural drawings and fragments in the subject areas of African, American, Ancient, Architecture, Asian, European Renaissance, Indian, Miniature, Photography, Prints & Drawings, and Textiles. Permanent collections are complemented by a year-round schedule of touring exhibitions; presents popular lectures, performances, symposia, and arranges travel. In past years, it hosted a major exhibit in honor of Gordon Parks. The exhibits of Native-American warriors are breathtaking and the venue includes a renown school of art, making it an institution, not just a museum. Make a day of it when you visit The Garden Café, which offers sustainable, local, and seasonal ingredients in a deli station. Terzo Piano also features authentic Italian ingredients and cuisine.
ADMISSION: Adults $18, Children, Students with ID & Seniors $12; Age 14 and under enter Free; enter FREE on Thursdays 5p-9p
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Wed 10:30a-4:30p, Thu-Fri 10:30a-8p, Sat-Sun 10p-5p
ADDRESS: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: East Monroe Street, Millennium Park and Grant Park North garages
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Adams-Wabash Station, CTA Madison-Wabash Station, Metra Chicago-Randolph Station
Chicago Cultural Center
DESCRIPTION: Formerly the Chicago Central Library until it moved to the Harold Washington Library. The permanent collection Perspectives in African-American Art is frequently accompanied by rotating exhibits, including those like the Afrocentric Hair Stories; the restored and world’s largest Louis Comfort Tiffany Dome makes exhibition space in the center all the more stunning – lots of eye candy.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Thu 10a-7p, Fri-Sat 10a-5p, Sun Noon-5p
ADDRESS: 78 East Washington Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid garage under Millennium Park across the street
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Randolph-Wabash Station, CTA Madison-Wabash Station, Metra Chicago-Randolph Station
Du Sable Museum of African American History
DESCRIPTION: history museum
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Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1967, the current MCA building was opened in 1996. The simple and functional elegance of its space attracts many touring modern art exhibits, so its wise to check the calendar on their website. A very nice touch includes a terraced outdoor sculpture garden – a great place to sip coffee and read a book purchased from the museum store. The delightful Puck’s Café with occasional lunch time music, a 15,000-volume art library, an intimate 300-seat theater for small performance spaces nicely round out one of America’s best contemporary art museums.
ADMISSION: Adults $10, Students with ID & Seniors $6, FREE on Target Tuesdays
DAYS & HOURS: Tue 10a-8p, Wed-Sun 10a-5p
ADDRESS: 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: non-members can receive a discount in the MCA garage
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Chicago-Red Station
DESCRIPTION: Originally founded in 1976, then reborn in 1984 under its current name. A stimulating forum for the collection, creation and interpretation of contemporary photography and its expanded digital processes. It always seems to have a major traveling exhibit in house. When an exhibit catches your eye, you can lose yourself for an hour.
ADMISSION: free, but donation suggested
DAYS & HOURS: Mon–Wed, Fri 10a-5p, Thu 10a-8p, Sat 10a-5p, Sun Noon-5p
ADDRESS: 600 South Michigan Ave inside Columbia College, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: paid garages nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Harrison Station and Metra Van Buren Station
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 2004 as the flagship of Millennium Park, this music pavilion is the new home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Grant Park Music Festival. It is the nation’s only remaining free outdoor classical music series. It is also home to Chicago Jazz Festival. Given that there are historic and legal limitations on the height of buildings in Grant Park, the city classifies the band shell as a work of art rather than a building. It features an overhead trellis sound system that replicates an indoor concert hall sound and is warmly saluted by critics.
ADDRESS: 201 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: Millennium Park Garage, Grant Park North, Grant Park South and East Monroe Garages
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Millennium Station
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 2003, this 1,525-seat theater for the performing arts is largely underground due to height restrictions in Millennium Park and positioned behind Pritzker Pavilion. Regularly featured local groups at the Harris are Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Muntu Dance Theater and Chicago Opera Theater. It has hosted notable national and international performers such as the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Stephen Sondheim.
BOX OFFICE: purchase online
ADDRESS: 205 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: Millennium Park Garage, Grant Park North, Grant Park South and East Monroe Garages
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Millennium Station
Muntu Dance Theatre
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1972, Muntu strives to create an atmosphere of communal participation with its audiences, while performing authentic and progressive interpretations of contemporary and ancient African and African-American dance, music, and folklore. Its core programs include professional performances both at home and abroad, comprehensive public and professional training for emerging new young artists.
ADMISSION: appt only
OFFICE ADDRESS: 7127 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
RAPID TRANSIT: Metra Stony Island Station or 75th Street-Grand Crossing Station
DESCRIPTION: It was founded in 1990 by Homer Hans Bryant, the former principal dancer with the Dance Theater of Harlem and director of DTH’s professional training program and Workshop Ensemble. The ballet is dedicated to providing dance opportunities for young people of all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds in Chicago Multicultural Dance Center. Call for classes.
ADMISSION: appt only
ADDRESS: 805 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garage nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Harrison Station
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1925 as a tribute to Chicago playwright Kenneth Sawyer Goodman. The exciting, but hard to categorize collection of plays is to be expected since the theater is a laboratory home to the Goodman Artistic Collective, a diverse group of some of the most exciting directors, actors, writers and designers of our age. Prior to November 2000, the Goodman was housed in the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then it relocated to this state-of-the-art, two-theater complex in the Loop Theater District, Goodman’s has become nationally recognized for its Education and Community Program that introduces children to live theater.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri 10a-5p, Sat-Sun Noon-5p; at 10a daily, all remaining mezzanine tickets for the current day’s performances are half-price
ADDRESS: 170 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: Government Center Self Park adjacent to theater; get your ticket validated for a discount
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Clark-Lake Station
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1921 to present the best in live and film entertainment, including Duke Ellington. The six-story Chicago marquee adorning this 3,600-seat theatre was redecorated for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair and includes an original Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. In the 1970s, Chicago Theatre was the victim of a complex web of factors causing it to close in 1985. But public-private efforts began to save and restore this ornate structure. It reopened in all its grand beauty one year later. Since then Jill Scott, Cedric The Entertainer, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Al Jarreau, Patti LaBelle, Barry White, Prince and The Isley Brothers have performed here along with special movies. Call for tour dates and more info.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri Noon-6p and 2 hours prior to show time
ADDRESS: 175 North State Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: Randolph Wabash Self-Park on Randolph is closest
RAPID TRANSIT: Lake CTA Subway Station, State-Lake CTA Elevated Station, Randolph-Michigan Metra Station
Oriental Theatre / Ford Center for the Performing Arts
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1926 as a first-run movie palace and complemented with stage shows, the 2,200-seat auditorium has a dream-like décor. The Three Stooges, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington have played here. The theater continued to feature films until the 1970s, when it presented concerts by Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & The Pips and many others before its demise. It closed in 1981 and was nearly torn down, but a public-private venture restored and renamed it Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 1997-98, to premiere the play Ragtime. It continues today as a dynamic pre-Broadway venue.
BOX OFFICE: hours vary here and Bank of America Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Auditorium Theatre and Broadway Playhouse.
ADDRESS: 24 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: InterPark at 20 East Randolph, discount parking with ticket stub
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA State-Lake Station and Metra Randolph-Michigan Station
PHONE: 312-782-2004 or 312-977-1700
Cadillac Palace Theatre
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1926 with a richly appointed interior with 2,500 seats was inspired by the palaces of Fontainebleau and Versailles. As a one-time vaudeville house, Jimmy Durante, Mae West, Jack Benny, and Bob Hope sharpened their skills here. In 1931, the theatre was converted into a movie palace. In the 1950s, it would occasionally book Broadway shows. In the 1970s, the auditorium was converted into a banquet hall. In 1984, the theatre, now renamed the Bismarck Theatre, was converted into a rock music venue. It was completely restored in 1999 and renamed the Cadillac Palace. It reopened with the premiere of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida. Since then, the Cadillac Palace has been the home to several pre-Broadway hits including The Producers, Mamma Mia! and The Lion King.
BOX OFFICE: hours vary here and Bank of America Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Auditorium Theatre and Broadway Playhouse
ADDRESS: 151 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: InterPark at Lake & Wells, discount parking with ticket stub
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Lake Subway Station, CTA State-Lake Elevated Station
Bank of America Theatre
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1906 as the Majestic Theatre, it was the first venue in Chicago to cost over $1 million. It ran vaudeville acts every day, except Sunday. In 1932, during the Great Depression, the Majestic closed and remained empty for 15 years. In 1945, the theatre was purchased, restored and reopened as the Shubert Theatre. The stage became home to an stunning array of classic plays, including A Chorus Line. In 1991, Nederlander Organization purchased the building and continued to host a wide array of quality theatrical productions, including the Chicago premiere of “Rent” and is known as a pre-Broadway venue.
BOX OFFICE: hours vary here and Cadillac Palace Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Auditorium Theatre and Broadway Playhouse
ADDRESS: 18 West Monroe Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: InterPark at 55 East Monroe Street, discount parking with ticket stub
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Monroe-Red Station and CTA Monroe-Blue Station
DESCRIPTION: Opened in 1889 by famous architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, the Auditorium’s architectural ingenuity, perfect acoustics, technical versatility and sight-lines became internationally revered; America’s first multi-purpose building incorporating a hotel, offices, retail space and a theatre. Hundreds of Sullivan’s intricate stencil patterns and bas-relief designs pepper the floor and wall mosaics, while 24-karat gold-leafed ceiling arches and exquisite murals provide plenty of eye-candy; hosts ballet and operatic performances. It is managed by Roosevelt University.
BOX OFFICE: hours vary here and Cadillac Palace Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Bank of America Theatre and Broadway Playhouse
ADDRESS: 50 East Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garages nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Library Station and Metra Van Buren Station
Civic Opera House
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1929, a hybrid of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles restored to its original splendor. Boasting excellent sight lines and acoustics, it is home to the renowned Lyric Opera of Chicago, concerts, Broadway shows and social gatherings. The Lyric Opera has performed Carmen many times.
BOX OFFICE: Madison & Wacker Drive, Noon-6p
ADDRESS: 20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: valet parking at 5p on performance evenings; for Saturday/Sunday matinees valet available at Noon; plenty of garages nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Washington-Wells Station and Oglive Transportation Center
PHONE: 312-419-0033 or 312-332-2244
DESCRIPTION: Designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and completed in 1904, the center is known as one of the world’s great Orchestra Halls. Acoustics are excellent. It is also home to the world-famous, 58 Grammy® Award-winning, Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Rhapsody Restaurant rounds out the offerings.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Sat 10a-6p, Sun 11a-4p
ADDRESS: 220 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: valet parking available via Rhapsody Restaurant; garages are nearby
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Adams-Wabash Station
Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place
DESCRIPTION: Formerly called Drury Lane Theatre, this state- of-the-art theatre features an intimate 549-seat auditorium and spacious lobby to host smaller Broadway plays. Its Lettuce Entertain You partnership offers exciting dining and theatre packages at Mity Nice Grill, steps away from the theatre.
BOX OFFICE: hours vary here and Cadillac Palace Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Bank of America Theatre and Auditorium Theatre
ADDRESS: 175 East Chestnut Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: Water Tower Place Parking, pick up discount pass from an usher
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Chicago Ave-Red Station
Chicago Shakespeare Theatre
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1986 as the Shakespeare Repertory Theatre, the company changed name when it moved to its roomier Navy Pier venue in 1999. The 525-seat jewel of a theatre features a trust stage into a courtyard setting to fully engage the audience. Includes a pub, small library and viewing area of the Chicago skyline. Its hard to imagine a more profound indoor setting for Shakespearean plays.
BOX OFFICE: Mon–Sat 11a–5p, Sun 12p–4p
ADDRESS: 800 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: Navy Pier parking
RAPID TRANSIT: free trolleys between Navy Pier and State Street
Steppenwolf Theatre Company
DESCRIPTION: This esteemed performing arts institution is committed to artistically risky ensemble collaborations and through its work with it a permanent ensemble, guest artists, partner institutions and the community. Steppenwolf has redefined the landscape of acting and performance since its founding in 1976 as an ensemble of nine actors. Its grown into a renowned company of thirty-five artists whose talents include acting, directing, playwriting and filmmaking.
BOX OFFICE: 11a-5p Mon-Sat, 1p-5p Sun and open until 7p on days with evening performance
ADDRESS: 1650 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: garage just south of the theater
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA North-Clybourn Station
Second City Theatre
DESCRIPTION: Since 1959, this Chicago landmark theatre has launched the careers of John Belushi, Mike Myers, and Bill Murray among others; this theatre seating only 340 and 180 in two auditoriums offers nightly comedy shows; the original shows are cutting edge and encourages actors and writers to improvise.
BOX OFFICE: opens Mon-Fri 9a, Sat 10a, Sun 11a
ADDRESS: 1616 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: across Wells Street in the Treasure Island parking lot
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Sedgwick Station
Victory Gardens-Biograph Theater
DESCRIPTION: Built 1914 and one of Chicago’s oldest neighborhood movie houses. Its red brick with white terra cotta construction typifies the first-generation movie houses that helped build the early motion picture industry. This theater is best known for its historical connection to the notorious gangster John Dillinger, who the FBI named “Public Enemy No. 1” and was killed here in 1934. It recently completed a $10 million renovation.
BOX OFFICE: Tue-Sat 12p-8p, Sun 12p-4p
ADDRESS: 2433 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL MAP
PARKING: 2316 North Lincoln and 550 West Webster Avenue
RAPID TRANSIT: CTA Fullerton Station