One of Chicago’s most impressive qualities is its world-class rotating museum exhibition collections. Every year, a host of new extraordinary art exhibits come to the Windy City, and 2023 is no different. Art, science, and human connection have a genuinely transformative power, so here are some of the most unique museum exhibits in Chicago that you should see at least once if your a local or visitor.
1. Of the Earth
The Morton Arboretum is set to open a new art exhibition in May 2023, featuring works from Polish-American artist Olga Ziemska. Created for the Arboretum, the exhibit will be Ziemska’s largest collection to date, replacing the Human + Nature sculptures by Daniel Popper, which closed in February of this year. Of the Earth will feature sculptures made from reclaimed tree branches and other materials gathered throughout the Arboretum’s grounds, one of the fantastic exhibits in Chicago you need to check out during the summer.
Location: 4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL 60532
Transportation: Train BNSF, Bus 715, 722
🎟️ Tickets: Open through Spring 2025. From $11+. More information about Of the Earth here.
2. Remedios Varo: Science Fictions
Experience Remedios Varo and friends, Hungarian photographer Kati Horna, and British painter Leonora, as they present European Surrealism in post-war Mexico. In partnership with the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, Science Fictions comes together to showcase modern science, mysticism, and imagination that created her lauded and precise technique.
Known as the ‘three witches,’ this trio explores both alchemy and the occult in art, displaying pieces often filled with mysterious figures performing unknown rituals– deep mystical paintings that draw together sources, spirits, and sensations.
Over 25 paintings will highlight the artist at her prime, along with drawings and additional archival materials, as the Art Institute of Chicago dedicates its first U.S. solo show since 2000 to Varo.
Location: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Transportation: Chicago ‘L’, Blue, Red, and Green Line
🎟️ Tickets: Open through November 27, 2023. From $19+. More information about Remedios Varo here.
3. Gary Simmons: Public Enemy
This exhibit is the first comprehensive career survey of the work of multidisciplinary artist Gary Simmons. Notable for his early application of conceptual artistic strategies, Simmons exposes and analyzes histories of racism inscribed in U.S. visual culture.
Location: 220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Transportation: Bus 146, 147, 148, 26, 3, 66
🎟️ Tickets: Open through October 1, 2023. From $19+. Learn more about Gary Simmons here.
4. Hellenic Heads: George Petrides
Studying six critical periods in Greek history spanning 2,500 years, Petrides explores his Greek background to understand the cultural influences that have shaped him and the people closest to him. This touring sculpture exhibition features six larger-than-life busts inspired by critical periods in Greek history.
Location: 333 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60661
Transportation: Bus 251, 350, 546, 605, 906
🎟️ Tickets: Open through January 28, 2024. From $10+. Learn more about Hellenic Heads here.
Steve McCurry is one of the most influential photographers of our time with a lengthy career that has spanned three decades. With much excitement, it was just announced that his iconic photographs are coming to Chicago this fall. Admire a selection of the most impressive images from his trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China, among others Tickets will be released on October 4th at noon, so be sure to join the waitlist now to get early access to tickets as soon as they are released to the public!
Location: 820 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Transportation: Bus 151, 147, 155
🎟️ Tickets: Starting on October 19, 2023. From TBD. Learn more about Steve McCurry Icons here.
6. William Estrada: Multiples and Multitudes
One of the free exhibits in Chicago you don’t want to miss, Multiples and Multitudes is the first solo exhibition of Chicago-based Mexican American artist and educator William Estrada, whose socially engaged practice has been rooted in Chicago neighborhoods for the last twenty years. The show is a free gallery and emphasizes the values of accessibility and collectivity that are ingrained in Estrada’s works in print, photography, performance, and video.
Location: 5020 S Cornell Ave, Chicago, IL 60615
Transportation: Bus 15, 172
🎟️ Tickets: Open through October 29, 2023. Free. Learn more about Multiples and Multitudes here.
Opening its doors to the public this November, the exhibit finds its home within the expansive Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago. Within these magical walls, guests will encounter a treasure trove of over 20,000 square feet with original costumes, props, and mesmerizing visuals that even the most devoted Disney enthusiasts haven’t experienced before.
At this magical journey, you’ll experience the magic of Disney as you move through ten themed spaces, encountering over 250 rarely-seen memorabilia and artifacts. From the carousel horse in Mary Poppins (1964) to a closer look at Iron Man’s mask from Iron Man (2008), Disney fans are in for a treat this November.
Location: 2367 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647
Transportation: Bus 147, 155, 36, Chicago Red Line
🎟️ Tickets: Open starting November 18. From $32. Learn more about Disney 100 Exhibit here.
8. First Kings of Europe
Travel back to 5000 BCE and experience the rise to power of ancient Europe’s first kings and queens, discovering how egalitarian farming communities developed power, inequity, and hierarchy for the first time. This exhibition presents various objects and contexts that emerged during these ancient times.
Location: 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
Transportation: Bus 146, 3, 6
🎟️ Tickets: Open through October 29, 2023. $19+. Learn more about First Kings of Europe here.
From Disney Aficionados to art lovers, there is endless Chicago exhibits to go see. Make sure you keep up with all the exhibits in Chicago here.