The Top 21 Things to See at Chicago Museums Right Now

See great art and kid-friendly exhibits at Chicago’s museums of art and science in August and on into autumn.

Photo: Courtesy of Chicago Cultural Center

Stefan Sagmeister’s The Happy Show can measure your overall level of satisfaction through September 23.

Art Museums & Institutions

ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
Through 9/22 Zarina Hashmi: Paper Like Skin. Zarina sculpts pulp into three-dimensional forms and uses it as a support for her abstract prints and drawings, which contain imagery reminiscent of hand-built structures and hardscrabble existence, all spun into modestly beautiful shapes. The show stopped at the Guggenheim in New York before coming to Chicago.
Through 9/22 Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity. This highly anticipated exhibition marries Impressionist masterworks with period costumes from the nascent modern fashion-design industry in 19th-century Paris.
Through 9/29 Undressed: The Fashion of Privacy. What happened behind closed doors was a topic of perennial fascination to Degas, Manet, Bonnard, and other 19th-century French artists. Were they testing the waters of public decency with their depictions of bathing maidens and prostitutes, or were they reveling in common pleasures? 111 S Michigan. artic.edu.

CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER
Through 9/23 Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show. This internationally touring fun house of interactive art experiences includes a bike-powered neon sculpture, among other viewer-activated, supposedly mood-elevating machines. It’s the brainchild of renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister and a team of collaborators. 78 E Washington. cityofchicago.org.

ELMHURST ART MUSEUM
Through 8/18 Fragment: Sampling the Modern. What does contemporary abstract art made in Chicago look like? This four-person show (Leslie Baum, Diana Guerrero-Maciá, Jessica Labatte, and Adam Scott) provides some answers. 150 Cottage Hill, Elmhurst. elmhurstartmuseum.org.

GRAHAM FOUNDATION Free!
Through 8/24 Where If Not Us? This exhibit’s subtitle, Imagining Participatory Design and Its Radical Approaches, name-drops an urban-planning movement in which community members determine the shape and function of their built environment. 4 W Burton. grahamfoundation.org.

HYDE PARK ART CENTER Free!
8/10–24 Front and Center. Over two dozen graduates of a new certificate program for professional artists debut their work.
Through 9/15 Abstracting the Seam. Repetitive needlework is akin to making meticulous brushstrokes, according to this exhibition of contemporary textile artwork. Seven artists use abstract imagery and modernist techniques to explore this theme. 5020 S Cornell. hydeparkart.org.

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Through 10/13 Homebodies. The exhibit explores domestic existence with paintings, sculptures, video, and other media. There’s also a living room where the artist Dzine can do your nails.
Through 10/13 Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes. If Chris Ware and Robert Crumb had a love child, it would be Clowes—who was born and raised in Hyde Park and returns to Chicago for a retrospective exhibition of more than 125 of his beautifully crude drawings. Also on view: a long-awaited installation by Theaster Gates, 13th Ballad; Gaylen Gerber; and Amalia Pica’s first major U.S. showing. Open Tue 10–8, Wed–Sun 10–5. Free (kids under 13) to $12; free Tue for Ill residents. 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org.

REVA AND DAVID LOGAN CENTER OF THE ARTS
Through 8/11 AfriCOBRA: Philosophy. The African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists, or AfriCOBRA, made its biggest contributions in Chicago in the 1970s, though it still exists today. This exhibit examines the group’s ideology. 915 E 60th. arts.uchicago.edu.

UKRAINIAN INSTITUTE OF MODERN ART
8/9–9/29 Chicago’s Bauhaus Legacy. Chicago was ground zero for the spread of European-style modernism in the early to mid–20th century. Learn about New Bauhaus, an innovative stylistic method developed in Germany. Thu–Sun 11–4. $5 suggested donation. 2320 W Chicago. uima-chicago.org.

 

History & Culture

ADLER PLANETARIUM Child Friendly
Through 4/1/14 Cosmic Wonder. The latest show in the spacious Grainger Theatre permits visitors to gawk at jaw-dropping shots of the Crab Nebula and Orion. Open daily 9–4:30. General admission $8–$12. Packages $18–$28. 1300 S Lake Shore. adlerplanetarium.org.

CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM
Through 9/2 Shalom Chicago. Personal stories, rare artifacts, and multimedia storytelling illustrate the Jewish community’s contribution to Chicago.
Through 1/4/14 Vivian Maier’s breathtaking black-and-white photos of Chicago in the 1960s.
Through 1/5/14 Ebony Fashion Fair. Dazzling designer garments from the archives of the famed traveling fashion show on custom-made mannequins. Mon–Sat 9:30–4:30, Sun 12–5. $14. $12 students, seniors. 1601 N Clark. chicagohs.org.

DUSABLE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY
Through 11/20 KKK—Kin Killin’ Kin. The title of this exhibition about youth violence in black neighborhoods is meant to invoke the KKK and hate crimes. James Pate’s charcoal drawings and colorful paintings combine symbols of African cultural heritage with urgent scenes of urban gun violence as a way to expose the terror and, hopefully, to heal from it. Tue–Sat 10–5, Sun 12–5. Free–$10. 740 E 56th Pl. dusablemuseum.org.

FIELD MUSEUM Child Friendly
Through 1/5/14 Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence. This show illuminates the many life forms that actually produce light. Open daily 9–5. General admission free (kids under 3) to $15; all-access passes $21–$30. 1400 S Lake Shore. fieldmuseum.org.

 

Science, Nature, Kids

MITCHELL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
Through 9/8 An exhibition of artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection. Open Tue–Sat 10–5, Thu 10–8, Sun 12–4. $3–$5. 3001 Central, Evanston. mitchellmuseum.org.

MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY Child Friendly
Through 9/2 Animal Inside Out. At this sequel of sorts to the controversial Body Worlds exhibit, view more than 100 specimens preserved through the process of plastination. Timed-entry tickets required, $8–$12, not including general admission. Open daily 9:30–4. General admission free (kids under 3) to $18. 57th and Lake Shore. msichicago.org.

SHEDD AQUARIUM Child Friendly
Through 10/31 Stingray Touch. Don’t worry; the slippery creatures in this outdoor exhibit—new this year—have had their barbs clipped. A guide is on hand to answer questions. Open daily 9–6. General admission $6–$8; all-access passes $28.95–$68.95. 1200 S Lake Shore. sheddaquarium.org.

 

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