The Arts Club of Chicago

26 November 2019


Now over a century old, The Arts Club of Chicago is both a private club and a public exhibition space nestled away in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. With the club only a short drive from 1000M, it’s the perfect destination for these cold winter days. 


A New Order

The Arts Club first opened in 1916, offering private membership for artists and patrons of the arts, and exhibitions that were free and open to the public. 

The club’s founding was inspired by the Art Institute of Chicago’s handling of the Armory Show. The Armory Show, formally known as The International Exhibition of Modern Art, was the first exhibit of Modern art in America. Opened in NYC, the show eventually made its way to Chicago, and unsettled classic realism in lieu of highlighting “avant-garde” painting and sculpture. The Modernist sensibilities introduced by the Armory Show redefined tastes, giving artists permission to experiment out of the ordinary realm of thought. 

In this vein, The Arts Club of Chicago strove to continue breaking new ground with its own curation, introducing new artists to the gallery lexacon rather than collecting familiar names in traditional museum style. The Club was in fact responsible for presenting Pablo Picasso’s first ever United States showing. 


A New Home

Over the years, The Arts Club has had eight different homes across Chicago. In 1997, the club moved to its current location in Streeterville, leaving behind a former interior space designed by Modernist master Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The design of the new space, done by John Vinci of Vinci/Hamp Architects, Inc., was driven by purpose, and the inclusion of Mies’ iconic staircase from the club’s past home. In support of its growing purpose, the club’s current location introduces 7,000 additional square feet, allowing for the expansion of programming. 

Built in the Modernist discipline, the building features two ground-floor galleries, the Mies staircase and an outdoor sculpture court. Upstairs, member-only spaces include the Drawing Room. 


Art for All

The Arts Club offers between three and four public exhibitions a year, along with a permanent collection including work by many modern and contemporary masters. Exhibits are accompanied by a diverse calendar of programming, bringing lectures, demonstrations, gallery talks, films, music, dance presentations and other educational programming able to thrive and grow in the new, expanded space. 


The Arts Club of Chicago is located at 201 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611. The first floor galleries of The Arts Club are free and open to the public from 11 AM – 6 PM, Tuesday through Friday, and 11 AM –3 PM on Saturdays. The Arts Club also hosts free public lectures and performances on weekday evenings and Saturday afternoons.