Chicago’s 23 Best Museum Exhibits

Everything to see now (and a few coming soon), with Christopher Wool at the AIC and a stop at Loyola for some Gorey.

Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey is at the Loyola University Museum of Art through mid-June.   Photo: Courtesy of Loyola University Museum of Art

Art & Design


Art Institute of Chicago

Through 4/20 Amar Kanwar, from New Delhi, shows his 2007 film The Lightning Testimonies, which gives personal accounts of rape in India.
Critic’s Pick Through 5/11 Christopher Wool. The Chicago painter—whose stencil paintings of slogans like “Sell the House Sell the Car Sell the Kids” made him famous in the ’80s NYC art scene—gets an overdue career retrospective.
Through 5/18 Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness. Revitalizing the tradition of pop art, Williams parodies consumer culture by photographing realistic fakes of advertising, fashion, and photojournalistic imagery.
111 S Michigan. artic.edu

Arts Club of Chicago

Through 5/17 Émilie Charmy. Who was Charmy? She had a successful art career during her lifetime but never became a household name in the United States. This retrospective brings to light the modern artist who painted portraits, nudes, and still lifes in Paris alongside some of her generation’s best, including Matisse. 201 E Ontario. artsclubchicago.org

Chicago Cultural Center

Through 4/27 Jan Tichy: Aroundcenter. Tech artist Tichy distributes nine multimedia artworks, including videos and projections, throughout the landmark architecture of the Cultural Center as a way to comment on its history and current uses.
Through 5/4 Thirty-Five Years of Public Art. This display celebrates the gains of the Percent-for-Art Ordinance, which funds new public art for every new public building.
Through 5/11 Mecca Flat Blues. A microcosm of Chicago’s class struggles, the storied preservation battle around a massive apartment building (called Mecca Apartments) gets an exhibition.
78 E Washington. cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca.html

DePaul Art Museum

Through 3/23 The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus. New photos and films document the traumatic memories of Soviet communism and genocide—very different from the Russian beach town’s holiday veneer. 935 W Fullerton. museums.depaul.edu

Loyola University Museum of Art

Through 6/15 Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey. A nationally touring exhibition of artwork by everyone’s favorite gothic grandpa makes a stop in Chicago (where he was born and raised). Artifacts from Gorey’s notoriously hermitic life are included alongside drawings and printed ephemera from his long career illustrating children’s books. 820 N Michigan. luc.edu/luma

Museum of Contemporary Art

Through 3/9 The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology. This exhibition looks at art through an anthropological lens, with politically provocative work influenced by the 20th-century artist Robert Smithson.
Through 5/18 William J. O’Brien. Organized like a poem, the multimedia artist’s first survey exhibition demonstrates his prodigious output in both drawing and ceramics.
Open Tue 10–8, Wed–Sun 10–5. Free (kids under 13) to $12; free Tue for Ill residents. 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Free! Through 4/6 Archive State. Six artists display their collections of images, each with an unusual or thoughtful theme, such as Arab video selfies, the East German secret service, and American soldiers in Iraq. 600 S Michigan. mocp.org

Renaissance Society

3/9–4/13 Teen Paranormal Romance. This new group exhibit depicts teen culture in the contemporary world, emoting through devices, bending gender and race, and having fun while being progressive intellectuals. A lost generation this is not. 5811 S Ellis. renaissancesociety.org

Smart Museum of Art

3/25–6/15 Imaging/Imagining: The Body as Art. Can a medical doctor dissect a nude portrait? This exhibition, organized by three doctors at the University of Chicago, proposes that art can be diagnostically revealing. 5550 S Greenwood. smartmuseum.uchicago.edu

History & Culture


Chicago History Museum

Through 3/2 Siam: The Queen and the White City. Photographs, costumes, and other artifacts from the Siamese queen Savang Vadanafor’s collection.
Through 5/11 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. $12–$14. 1601 N Clark. chicagohs.org

DuSable Museum of African American History

Through 3/30 The Endangered Species: A Visual Response to the Vanishing Black Man. Artist Raub Welch examines the iconography around the African American male.
Through 4/6 Beyond the Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges. This exhibit explores the surprising relationship between two oft-marginalized groups.
Tue–Sat 10–5, Sun 12–5. Free–$10. 740 E 56th Pl. dusablemuseum.org

CHILD FRIENDLY

Field Museum

Through 9/7 Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair. The museum reveals rare artifacts from the famous fair.
Through 9/30 Before the Dinosaurs: Tracking the Reptiles of Pangaea. Learn how to read fossils for clues about the animals that roamed the earth long before humans came along.
Through 1/4/15 The Machine Inside: Biomechanics. Get the inside scoop on the bodily functions of both humans and animals at this kid-friendly exhibit.
Open daily 9–5. General admission free (kids 3–11) to $20; all-access passes $21–$30. 1400 S Lake Shore. fieldmuseum.org

Science, Nature, Kids


CHILD FRIENDLY

Adler Planetarium

Through 4/1 Cosmic Wonder. The latest show in the spacious Grainger Sky Theater lets visitors gawk at jaw-dropping shots of the Crab Nebula and Orion. Mon–Fri 9:30–4, Sat–Sun 9:30–4:30. General admission $8–$12. Packages $18–$28. 1300 S Lake Shore. adlerplanetarium.org

CHILD FRIENDLY

Museum of Science and Industry

Through 5/4 Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives. Look through more than 300 drawings, scripts, and costumes from the icon’s films. Timed-entry tickets required, $7–$9, not including general admission. Open daily 9:30–4. General admission free for kids under 3, to $27–$36. 5700 S Lake Shore. msichicago.org

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