A Brief History of The Art Institute of Chicago

24 January 2019

Everyone knows that the Art Institute is an amazing museum, but how much do you know about its origins? A staple of the 1000M neighborhood, The Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 and is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States. It holds a permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art with a mission to “collect, preserve, and interpret works of art of the highest quality, representing the world’s diverse artistic traditions, for the inspiration and education of the public and in accordance with our profession’s highest ethical standards and practices.” It has had eight major expansions since finding its permanent residence on Michigan Avenue, including an auditorium (1898), research library (1901) and most recently, the Modern Wing (2009).  

A staple of the 1000M neighborhood, The Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879 and is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States.
The Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago

AIC emerged from what was known as the Chicago Design of Academy, founded in 1866, but had its West Adams Street location destroyed in 1871 by the Great Chicago Fire. This original institution struggled financially after the fire, but from its ashes rose a new entity, the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, which began in 1879 with the mission to collect art and hold exhibitions, as well as to educate. In 1882, the name was changed to the Art Institute of Chicago. Its first president the a banker and philanthropist Charles L. Hutchinson, who is largely responsible for shaping the vision that prevails today.

 

The first home of the Art Institute was located on the corner of Michigan and Van Buren, and its original building was expanded upon, demolished and rebuilt again between 1882 and 1887. Its current building and location came to be after the museum’s trustees agreed to share the cost of the new building with the World’s Columbian Exposition, which used the building until the exposition, which was held from 1892 to 1893, was over.  

 

The AIC is always evolving, improving and challenging itself. Originally created to appeal to the local arts community, it has evolved into an institution dedicated to making the art world accessible to a wider public, supporting an increasingly diverse array of artistic mediums and collections. Today, the Art Institute’s reputation as a major global museum and tourist attraction reflect the depth and quality of its collection.

 

As a resident of 1000M, you will have the great privilege of being mere blocks from this world- class cultural icon, so you won’t have to go far to Seek Beauty. Visit the 1000M website today to schedule a visit to our Sales Gallery.