Librarians heading to Chicago this summer for the American Library Association annual conference should plan to set aside some time to visit the Art Institute of Chicago. It is downtown where most of the visiting librarians will be staying. By that time, it will have opened its new modern wing, a huge addition which will increase the size of the museum about thirty percent. This benefits everyone who enjoys art. As the modern art heads into the new wing, the museum has more room in its existing galleries for art from earlier periods. Many of these galleries have already been re-installed. Bonnie and I were there Saturday to see how much better the arrangement is. Visitors can now find the beginnings of European art and follow its progression more easily. The French Impressionists now have larger rooms. More importantly, the Art Institute has brought many paintings out of storage now that there is more space. We saw dozens that we had never seen before.
We went to the museum last Saturday to see several exhibits - Becoming Edvard Munch and Yousef Karsh: Regarding Heroes. Neither will be there this summer, but if you can visit by mid-April, they are worthwhile. My favorite paintings in the Munch exhibit were by his friends, not by Munch himself. I enjoyed the Yousef Karsh more. There were many striking photographs of leaders in art and literature. The museum website, however, does not show them.
We always visit the museum shop. I noticed several children's books that I will be reviewing soon. The shop is currently being remodelled, but I suspect it will be completed before the summer.
The museum will not really have any big exhibits this summer, as it will be celebrating the new wing and showing more of what it has had stored away for decades. There will still be plenty to see. Librarians should stop by the museum library, which usually has an interesting exhibit of art books. Also, the restaurant in the courtyard will be open. Lunch at the Art Institute is an indulgence worth every calorie.