Engaging with Architecture at the Art Institute

February 20, 2014

Art Institute of Chicago

Of course the main attraction at the Art Institute of Chicago would be the world-class collection of art, but this major Chicago museum is also an interesting place to enjoy architecture as well. In addition to the buildings that comprise it, they also display collections of architectural relics from Chicago buildings.

Primarily two contrasting buildings – old and new – comprise the Art Institute of Chicago. The historic building, in the classical style and faced with limestone, is what you see from Michigan Avenue, with its iconic lions of course. The museum was built for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, for which architect Daniel Burnham proposed this neo-classical style. It seems like a no-brainer that museums have columns, pediments, and ancient-style reliefs, but it was a distinct stylistic choice by Burnham. It was looking to the Beaux Arts style of architecture, named after the Parisian school, and the art world in the late 1800s had all eyes upon France.
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