Art Museum Insider

Behind the scenes of our local art museums

A woman's elaborately decorated nails

Wondering what’s up in the world of art in Chicago? Check out our roundup of the latest news in the scene.


The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago have ended long searches for top positions in their education departments. These positions are significant because art museums are re-emphasizing the responsibility of their educators to engage their public audiences.

Heidi Reitmaier is the new director of education at the MCA, and she has previously worked as a curator and educator in London and Canada, such as at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Reitmaier was also the head of special projects at London’s Mayfair gallery in 2001 when a janitor accidentally mistook Damien Hirst artwork for detritus and tossed it.

At the Art Institute, Judith Russi Kirshner is the new deputy director for education. She was formerly dean of the college of architecture and the arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago; she was also curator at the MCA 1976–1980. In 2000, she curated an important posthumous retrospective of the artist Christina Ramberg’s drawings, at UIC’s Gallery 400.


Three area contemporary art curators have left Chicago institutions. Debora Wood has left Northwestern University’s art museum, The Block. She was the senior curator, and a specialist in modern and contemporary printmaking. Wood’s 13-year tenure ended as The Block’s new director, Lisa Corrin, stepped in last year. A former curator, Corrin arranged for The Block to display the current Terry Adkins solo exhibition.

Katherine Bussard, associate curator of photography at the Art Institute since 2006 (and since 2004 as assistant curator), is moving into an endowed position as curator of photography at the Princeton University Art Museum.

Also leaving the AIC is Lisa Dorin, who was associate curator of contemporary art, where she spearheaded video art exhibitions during her 7-year run, including the recently closed Hito Steyerl show. Dorin will be the new deputy director for curatorial affairs at Williams College Museum of Art, in western Massachusetts, where she worked prior to the AIC.


The Art Institute’s new admission rates take effect February 1. Here, by comparison, are the full-price adult admission rates for some other Chicago art museums. (Senior, student, and children’s rates vary, some museums have free days; see websites for more info).

$23 ($18 for Chicago residents, $20 for Illinois residents): Art Institute of Chicago
$12 (suggested): Museum of Contemporary Art
$8: Loyola University Museum of Art
$5 (suggested): Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
$5: Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
Free: Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
Free: The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago
Free: The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University
Free: DePaul Art Museum
Free: Illinois State Museum, Thompson Center
Free: Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago
Free: Chicago Cultural Center
Free: Hyde Park Art Center
Free: The Arts Club of Chicago
Free: Graham Foundation


DesDimi Gallery Salon (770 North LaSalle, suite 200) has opened in River North, and features a rotating exhibition schedule along with full-service beauty treatments for men and women. Owner Danka Marinkovic is offering free cuts to people who are currently battling cancer.

The Museum of Contemporary Art will offer free artist-designed manicures, with extra bling, in late summer.

As part of the upcoming exhibition Homebodies (6/29–10/13), the nail salon is an artwork by Chicago-based artist Carlos “Dzine” Rolon.Imperial Salon debuted at Art Basel Miami in 2011. It will be the first showing of this interactive artwork in Chicago.

Jason Foumberg is Chicago magazine’s contributing art critic.


Photograph: Courtesy of MCA



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