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Art Institute of Chicago – Illinois, U.S.A.

A Remarkable Repository of Masterworks

Chicago, the quintessential American city, is the deserving home of one of the nation’s top art institutions, with one of the world’s largest collections – more than 225,000 works in all, distributed among ten exquisitely displayed departments.

Two of American art’s most recognizable paintings are here: Grant Wood’s American Gothic (Wood’s dentist posed for the pitchfork-­holding farmer, the artist’s sister for the spin­ster daughter at his side) and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, his famously austere all-night diner scene.

The world-class Surrealist collection includes Magritte’s Time Transfixed, but the museum probably enjoys widest fame for its collections of French Impressionist and Postimpressionist art, unsurpassed in quality by any other American collection and including such celebrity pieces as Seurat’s pointillist masterpiece Sunday on La Grande Jatte1884 and a series of Monet’s Stacks of Wheat (once called Haystacks; six are on view at most times).

Streams of schoolchildren and the apprecia­tive hush of visitors are testament to Chicagoans’ love for their museum, which has the largest membership of any U.S. art museum. Its century-old Renaissance-style building is one of countless reasons for Chicago’s stature as the world capital of 19th- and 20th-century architecture. Top off a visit with a quick shopping spree in the impressive museum shop and a leisurely respite in the museum’s alfresco Garden Restaurant (open June-September), or dine indoors at the museum’s elegant Restaurant on the Park, surrounded by the verdant Grant Park, one of Chicago’s loveliest outdoor spaces.

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