“We have a main museum shop off of Michigan Avenue. We didn’t want to be a cookie cutter of that,” says Liz Grainer, vice president of auxiliary operations for the Art Institute of Chicago. She’s explaining the idea behind the Modern Shop, the new 3,000-square-foot store that is housed in the museum’s new Modern Wing. The shop will carry the expected wares: post cards, posters, T-shirts, and tote bags. But, as in New York’s MOMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art store down the street, there will be a large dose of modern design objects. Find, too, unexpected exclusives designed by students, faculty, and alumni of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“We worked with the school to create items especially for us,” Grainer says. One of the major finds will be jewelry from local designers, including Kathy Frey’s wire jewelry ($98 to $1,000), steel necklaces from Gray Workshop, and Haelo Design’s high-end, ecologically conscious furniture and home objects. The shop will also carry a small selection of housewares and tabletop designs such as a reproduction ($399) of Yves Behar’s Leaf Light, an item that is in the museum’s permanent collection; a soup ladle ($120) designed by Steffen Schmelling for the Danish design house Ego; and a sleek alarm clock ($46) by Industrial Facility. Shoppers will also find a comprehensive collection of books on modern and contemporary art, design, architecture, and photography, many chosen by the wing’s curators.

Meantime, the 6,000-square-foot shop on the Michigan Avenue side of the museum is undergoing a renovation, slated to be unveiled in May. “The Michigan Avenue store will keep items dedicated to impressionism and American art, and it will still have some modern and contemporary things, but the two stores will specialize in their own areas,” Grainer says. Need a Water Lilies umbrella? Head to Michigan Avenue. Need sleek, mod design? Head to Monroe Street.


WHERE Art Institute of Chicago, 159 E. Monroe St.; 312-857-7169

WHAT to expect Jewelry, textiles, and objects from local designers, plus books and prints

PRICE RANGE From $1.75 for a post card to $1,000 for original art. (Average price: $50.)

EXTRAS Two other stores in the Modern Wing: a kids’ shop in the Ryan Education Center and a balcony café with art and design periodicals.

HOURS Variable. The shop will likely have expanded hours during the summer and holidays.


Photography: Courtesy of Modern Shop (from left) rocks, courtesy of Haelo Design; scarf, Christine Ciszczon; travel alarm, Industrial Facility