Museums & Art Exhibitions for Springtime Chicago
The American Writers Museum reopened May 14, 2021 with a new exhibit Ray Bradbury: Inextinguishable (May 2021- May 2022), chronicling the life of the well-known writer of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man, who was also a screenplay writer, a friend to Walt Disney, an amateur painter, and so much more.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago has a full Winter/Spring 2022 schedule, featuring the exhibits:
- Subscribe: Artists and Alternative Magazines, 1970-1995 (Until May 2, 2022) – Beginning in the early 1970s—as underrepresented groups were demanding new forms of visibility following the emergence of political movements such as Black Power and the Stonewall Rebellion—a handful of British and American photo-driven alternative magazines came on the scene. The Face, i-D, Rags, Out/Look, and other new publications amplified marginalized voices, especially those of queer makers and makers of color, and made room for those makers to question who and what was accepted as mainstream. This exhibition brings together over 130 magazines as well as photographs and time-based media works that evidence how these publications, by prizing formal experimentation and generating new affiliations across identities, challenged mainstream definitions of culture and belonging
- Morris and Company: The Business of Beauty (Until June 13, 2022) – Artist, designer, and writer William Morris (1838–1896) founded Morris & Co. 160 years ago, in 1861. The company quickly became regarded for its handmade wallpapers, textiles, and furniture and its style became synonymous with the British Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. Morris and his collaborators—which included his wife Jane Burden Morris, younger daughter May, artisan and designer John Henry Dearle, as well as artists such as Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rosetti—considered themselves design reformers. Accordingly, they experimented with dye recipes based on natural materials, revived hand-printing methods for fabrics and wallpapers, and reintroduced hand weaving for woven wool and silk textiles as well as pictorial tapestries. Although Morris & Co. closed its doors in 1940, the company’s aesthetic vision remains potent to this day through the continued reimagining and reworking of the textile and wallpaper designs. This exhibition explores that longevity, highlighting Morris & Co’s design tenets and favored techniques as well as Chicago area sites where the work of Morris and his contemporaries appeared.
- The Golden Age of Kabuki Prints (Until April 10, 2022; April 16- June 26, 2022) – The drama of Kabuki theater was most successfully conveyed in the prints of the Katsukawa School of artists because they captured the individual characteristics of each actor. Kabuki actors were the celebrities of their time, and prints depicting them found an eager audience in their fans. Founded by Katsukawa Shunshō (1726–1792), the Katsukawa school included several prominent artists, all of whom created portraits of actors performing in popular Kabuki plays in Edo, though almost all of these prints show the actors in a realistic setting—on the street or under a flowering tree—rather than on a stage. The best-known artists of the school, in addition to Shunshō, were Katsukawa Shunkō (1743–1812) and Shun’ei (1762–1819). This exhibition includes examples by all three of these artists and is drawn from the more than 700 Katsukawa School prints in the Art Institute’s collection.
- Life and Afterlife in Ancient Egypt (Opening February 11, 2022) – The transformed space explores aspects of life and the afterlife in the Nile Valley with the first new installation of works from the museum’s historic collection of ancient Egyptian art in a quarter-century. Striking artifacts—displayed along one wall of the gallery in a series of innovative cases that promote viewing from multiple vantage points—provide insight into the beliefs and practices of this illustrious North African culture.
- Mel Bochner Drawings: A Retrospective (April 23 – August 22, 2022) – Over the course of a career that has spanned nearly six decades, Mel Bochner has been at the forefront of Conceptual Art, producing thought-provoking work in nearly every medium: drawing, painting, prints, photography, sculpture, books, and installations. This exhibition is the first to use drawing as its principle organizing focus, foregrounding the importance of this body of work within the artist’s practice from its beginnings in the 1960s through the present. The show demonstrates Bochner’s pioneering role in redefining the traditional boundaries of drawing and illuminates the artist’s evolving ideas about seriality, temporality, and the slippage between word and image.
- CEZANNE (May 15 – September 5, 2022) – This exhibition is the first major retrospective of the artist Paul Cezanne (French, 1839–1906)’s work in the United States in more than 25 years and the first exhibition on Cezanne organized by the Art Institute of Chicago in more than 70 years. Planned in coordination with Tate Modern, the ambitious project explores Cezanne’s work across media and genres with 90 oil paintings, 40 watercolors and drawings, and two complete sketchbooks. This outstanding array encompasses the range of Cezanne’s signature subjects and series—little-known early allegorical paintings, Impressionist landscapes, paintings of Montagne Sainte Victoire, portraits, and bather scenes—and includes both well-known works and rarely seen compositions from public and private collections in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.
Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center’s new exhibitions include:
- The Great Chicago Fire in Focus (Until Spring 2022) – Following the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871, commercial photographers descended on the city to record its devastation but the paper-based prints offered for sale by the photographers lost much of the negative’s sharpness. For over fifty years, historian and photographic collector David R. Phillips sought and discovered the long-forgotten glass plate negatives that photographers inserted into their cameras 150 years ago. When combined with today’s digital reproduction technologies, these rescued 1870s glass negatives provide detailed imagery of the Chicago Fire’s devastation with a dramatic clarity never before possible.
Chicago History Museum’s newest permanent exhibition, City on Fire: Chicago 1871, guides visitors through the crucial events and conditions before, during and after the fire which overwhelmed Chicago for three days, submerging a city built of wood and causing severe destruction and homelessness and inflaming tensions against the immigrant Irish O’Leary family. This family-friendly exhibition features more than 100 artifacts from the Chicago History Museum’s collection, interactive and multimedia elements, and personal stories from survivors of the fire.
- The Chicago History Museum’s Jaffee History Trail is now open. The interpretive path through the park space around the Museum incorporates features such as a fire relic from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Couch Tomb, a reminder that the area was once a Chicago city cemetery. Developed in partnership with the Chicago Park District and support of neighborhood groups, the Jaffee History Trail creates a new destination at Lincoln Park’s southwestern corner. The new landscaping includes approximately 150 young trees and large beds of native plants, which will attract birds and other pollinators.
DuSable Museum of African American History is exhibiting the Un(re)solved installation, a multiplatform experience examining a federal effort to grapple with America’s legacy of racist killings. Who are the men, women, and children whose cases were reexamined under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act? In the Un(re)solved installation, explore a living quilt and use augmented reality to bring the stories woven throughout, to life. Offered in partnership with Frontline PBS. Learn more here.
- In Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories, opening May 2022, guests are invited to experience stories told by Native American and Indigenous people of self-determination, resilience, continuity and the future. Visitors will learn about the historical significance of items in the Field’s collection, like traditional regalia and pottery, and immerse themselves in works by contemporary Native artists, including Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) raised beadwork from Karen Ann Hoffman of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and flute music from Frank Waln of the Sicangu Lakota. They will also dive deeply into current issues, like threats to Native land and the rights of tribal nations to govern themselves.
Greektown Chicago presents a new outdoor art exhibit Hello Helios: The warming suns of Chicago’s Greektown with 24 vibrant three-dimensional artworks lining Halsted Street from Monroe to Van Buren Streets through spring 2022. Painted by a diverse group of Chicago artists and named for Helios, the god of the sun in Greek mythology, the 24 sun sculpture editions celebrate the sun and light up the start of summer in Chicago. Many works in the exhibit draw inspiration from related mythologies, including those in the Greek, Aztec, Yoruba, Japanese and Native American cultures.
Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago will house Frida: Immersive Dream (February 24 – May 28, 2022), which explores the Mexico-born artist’s work with 500,000 cubic feet of monumental large-scale projections animating Frida Kahlo’s oeuvre, accompanied by a ravishing musical score.
For a unique after-hours outing, head to the Loop’s Medieval Torture Museum, the largest interactive historical museum in the U.S. Visitors are transported back in time hundreds of years to one of the darkest periods in history. Guests can explore immersive, hands-on recreations of torture chambers from the Middle Ages, made up of a unique collection of hundreds of objects. A self-guided audio tour introduces the museum’s collection and characters, while the Ghost Hunting Experience lets guests “capture” restless spirits.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art has a busy Winter/Spring 2022 schedule, featuring the exhibits:
- Bani Abidi: The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared (Until June 5, 2022) – Pakistani artist Bani Abidi (b. 1971, lives and works in Karachi and Berlin) critiques those who hold power—and the many ways they wield it. Abidi is a master storyteller, using humor and absurdism to take on issues of militarism and nationalism as well as memory, belonging, and self-determination. Like an archeologist of urban life, Abidi intermingles fact with fiction in stories that navigate the intersection of personal and political drama. This major survey, developed in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation, explores more than two decades of Abidi’s practice and features video, photography, sound installations, and new work, as well as work from the MCA Collection.
- Chicago Works: Caroline Kent (Until June 12, 2022) – How does language structure our world? Who gets to be inside or outside a language? What would it mean to invent a new mode of communication? And what social conditions make creating a new language necessary?
- These are questions that Chicago artist Caroline Kent (American, b. 1975) explores through paintings, drawings, sculpture, and performance works that speak in an abstract visual vocabulary she developed over years of practice. In this Chicago Works exhibition, Kent encourages visitors to engage with her invented language of abstraction—one that defies easy interpretation or translation.
- Alfredo Jaar: The Structure of Images (Until July 3, 2022) – In our image-saturated and media-obsessed world, what stories remain untold? Employing images, lights, and mirrors, Alfredo Jaar (Chilean, b. 1956) asks us to acknowledge subjects who are often under-recognized. Projects range in scope and subject: as one artwork focuses on an Ethiopian refugee amid the Eastern Sudan crisis, another observes remarkable but overlooked women including human rights lawyer Shada Nasser, author and activist Nawal El Saadawi, and politician Camila Vallejo. Featuring a selection of key works and installations that span three decades, The Structure of Images showcases Jaar’s critical approach to addressing injustice in our world.
- Based on a True Story . . . (February 12-August 14, 2022) – In Based on a True Story . . ., 19 artists play with fact, fiction, and the grey areas in between. Drawn primarily from the MCA Collection, their artworks wrestle with our understanding of truth and belief by exploring fiction: Some artists craft an identity or personal memoir. Others stage complex urban landscapes that confuse our perception of the world. Still, others challenge the way the past is portrayed by historians and institutions like museums. Based on a True Story . . . invites visitors to question how we see truth—and how fiction can help us imagine new realities.
- Coming in Spring 2022, MCA will present the first career-spanning retrospective of the internationally renowned Chicagoan Nick Cave in an exhibition titled NICK CAVE: FOROTHERMORE (May 14–Oct 2, 2022). Highlights of the exhibition will include never-before-seen works, including a continuation of the artist’s popular Soundsuits series with the premiere of Soundsuits 9:29 and a mesmerizing, site-specific installation, Spinner Forest, composed of thousands of kinetic spinners that will hang in the museum’s two-story atrium and fourth-floor lobby.
The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago is featuring:
- From March 3-June 26, 2022, MoCP at Columbia College Chicago presents Beautiful Diaspora / You Are Not the Lesser Part, a free exhibit featuring 15 artists from around the globe whose works showcase diversity both in front of and behind the camera, as well as challenge notions of global segregation. Organized by Asha Iman Veal, MoCP’s Associate Curator, this thought-provoking collection challenges the audience to reflect on the parallel experiences and relationships between global artists of color and diverse Black artists. The exhibition features work by Xyza Cruz Bacani (Philippines), Widline Cadet (US), Jessica Chou (US), duo Amy Sanchez Arteaga and Misael Diaz (US), Işıl Eğrikavuk (Turkey/Germany), Citlali Fabián (Mexico), Sunil Gupta (Canada/UK), Kelvin Haizel (Ghana), David Heo (US), Damon Locks (US), Johny Pitts (UK), Farah Salem (Kuwait/US), Ngadi Smart (Ivory Coast/UK), Tintin Wulia (Australia), and the debut of Abena Appiah (UK).
Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) is bringing its experiential museum to Chicago this coming summer 2022. Located at The Shops at Tribune Tower at 435 N Michigan Ave, the one-of-its-kind space will span 13,544 square feet and encompass retail, entertainment, and a cafe and bar. Plans include the rollout of new features and attractions specifically designed for Chicago including the Sprink-L, a Chicago-inspired CTA “L”; a giant dessert-themed putt putt course with a pink Chicago dog ice cream treat; and a 3,500-square-foot speakeasy accessible to the general public.
At the reopened Museum of Illusions Chicago, guests can enjoy more than 80 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind. Social distancing measures will be strictly enforced along with temperature checks, reduced capacity, timed-ticketing and increased sanitation and cleaning.
Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry Chicago (MSI)’s popular Boeing 727, which made history during the early age of jet travel, reopened to the public with a new Take Flight exhibit that celebrates the historic United Airlines plane and explores how the airline industry connects people. The project involved restoring and highlighting the plane’s interior and creating brand-new interactives to bring flying to life. The plane’s fuselage bears the name of Captain William Norwood, the first African-American pilot for United, whose story is featured in the exhibit. A 150-foot display takes guests on a behind-the-scenes journey from aircraft assembly to takeoff, showcasing the variety of careers and people working in aviation. This spectacular wall reveals the complex systems that help people build new planes, manage airport operations and track flights and passengers all around the world.
New attractions coming to MSI for Winter/Spring 2022 include:
- Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition (January 17 – April 17, 2022) – The longest-running exhibit of African-American art in the nation—hosted at MSI since 1970—showcases nearly 200 works by professional and student artists. The annual Black Creativity program also features an Innovator Gallery of African-American leaders who are transforming Chicago; educational workshops for students; family events; and the Black Creativity Gala. A special exhibit, Black Creativity: Architecture, explores the impact of Black architects throughout history, from ancient buildings to modern skyscrapers.
- The Art of the Brick (February 10 – September 5, 2022) – Designed to inspire ingenuity and creativity, The Art of the Brick is the world’s largest and most elaborate display of LEGO art featuring more than 100
- Coal Mine and U-505 Submarine, two guest favorites, will reopen to the public in February 2022 after pandemic-related closures. The Coal Mine takes guests down a mineshaft, along the rails and through a true-to-life coal mine with an engaging tour of mining history and innovations. The U-505 On-board Tour is an interactive walk through history, from the cramped quarters to the feel of battle.
The Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation has a slate of new events for the Winter/Spring season, including free readings, talks, exhibitions, and more. On February 5, 2022, the Foundation will kick off a new partnership with Poetry Ireland with COMMONground, the first in a series of transatlantic events. The reading and conversation with acclaimed Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa and award-winning American poet Teri Ellen Cross Davis, moderated by Erin Fornoff, probes concepts of struggle, motherhood, and the complexities of honoring the past while raising the future.
- For And Nor But Or Yet So, Bob Faust’s installation honoring poet Patricia Smith, is extended until March 13, 2022. The installation can be viewed on the exterior of the Poetry Foundation building, which will reopen to the public in April 2022 for in-person events.
Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement, the newest special exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center running through May 8, 2022, explores the June 1969 police raid of the Stonewall Inn as the flashpoint that ignited the modern gay rights movement in the United States. Blending together historic images and artifacts of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, the 85 items on display in Rise Up include posters from Harvey Milk’s campaign for public office in San Francisco, a rainbow flag in its original colors signed by its creator Gilbert Baker, and early LGBTQ magazines and publications.
- Opening January 27, 2022 (Holocaust Remembrance Day), visitors can experience the virtual reality exhibition The Journey Back: A VR Experience, which applies cutting-edge technology to engage visitors on a journey as they walk through concentration camps with Holocaust Survivors who experienced them. The exhibition is a global game-changer, revolutionizing the field of Holocaust memory through innovative technology and transportive storytelling. In this exhibit, the participant controls their own 360-degree experience as they walk with Survivors Fritzie Fritzshall and George Brent through their childhood homes and current day Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and Ebensee.
The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art presents Bob Thompson: This House is Mine, running from February 15-May 15, 2022, the first museum exhibition dedicated to this visionary painter in more than twenty years. Through more than 85 paintings and works on paper, the exhibition traces Thompson’s brief but prolific transatlantic career, examining both his formal inventiveness and his engagement with themes of collectivity, jazz, love, bearing witness, struggle and justice.