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1985–2000: At Century's End

Over many decades, the museum's 1893 Allerton Building had been radically altered to accommodate a growing collection and new methods of presentation. A two-year renovation and restoration program of the second floor renewed the space’s symmetry, improved lighting, and created optimum viewing conditions.

The dramatic increase of the contemporary art collection and the popularity of large traveling exhibitions led, in the 1980s, to the construction of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Building, which opened in 1988. This wing still houses the museum's largest special exhibition space, Regenstein Hall, as well as the American art collection. In the 1990s, the Art Institute built a new suite of galleries to house its Asian collection. Here, famed architect Tadao Ando designed his first American space, a gallery for Japanese screens. In 1993, a totally reconstructed Kraft Education Center opened to serve students, teachers, and families. Restoration of the Art Institute's earliest educational spaces became a priority: the Ryerson Library was renovated in 1994 with restored interiors and new underground stacks, and work on Fullerton Auditorium began in 1999. As the century closed, a new exterior ramp and interior elevator were under construction to provide universal access to the Art Institute.

Martin Puryear. Lever #1, 1988–89. Red cedar. A James Speyer Memorial, UNR Industries in honor of James W. Alsdorf, and Barbara Neff Smith and Solomon Byron Smith funds, 1989.385


Edouard Vuillard. Foliage—Oak Tree and Fruit Seller, 1918. Distemper on canvas. Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation, 1999.373


Frank Lloyd Wright. Triptych window from a niche in the Avery Coonley Playhouse, Riverside, Illinois, 1912. Clear and colored leaded glass in oak frames. Restricted gift of Dr. and Mrs. Edwin J. DeCosta and the Walter E. Heller Foundation, 1986.88

Sculpture court of the galleries for American art before 1900.