You are here


A Look Back at a Brilliant Year

An election, an Olympiad, and Gangnam Style: 2012 was a momentous year, especially for the Art Institute. Blockbuster exhibitions, shiny new galleries, and big technology updates were the talk of the town.

One of the biggest happenings of the year was Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, which brought together nearly 170 iconic works like Brushstroke with Spatter (1966) and attracted nearly 350,000 visitors.

The new Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art also took shape around McKinlock Court. Designed by wHY Architecture, the new sun-drenched galleries now hold over 550 works from 4,000 years of life in the Mediterranean region. The location of the galleries—right at a crossroads in the museum—is definitely fitting considering the huge influence of the Greek and Roman world on Western art.

The Art Institute continued to go high-tech in 2012. Members can now show their member card on an iPhone, over 133,000 people like us on Facebook, and LaunchPads—specialized iPads chock full of info and fresh new perspectives on works—are now in two spaces (the Jaharis Galleries and the European Decorative Arts galleries).

As usual, the curators presented shows worthy of a blizzard of superlatives. Here's just a small sample of the exhibitions that filled the galleries in 2012:

Rarely seen Renaissance and Baroque drawings showed the creative spark behind the work of prolific Italian painters.

A photography exhibition took a deeper look at the groundbreaking work of two highly influential surrealists.

1:1 scale copper replicas of pieces of the Statue of Liberty filled Pritzker Garden.

Moving, moving-image works by prominent artist Steve McQueen went on display in an innovative presentation in Regenstein Hall.

And exhibitions explored the cutting-edge designs of fashion houses Bless, Boudicca, Sandra Backlund; as well as the impressive accomplishments of Chicago architect Jeanne Gang.

Yes, it's been a big year for the museum, but 2013 promises to be even more grand. More news in the New Year, but for now, we're off to toast a great year and to ring in the next. Happy New Year!

Image Credits:

Roy Lichtenstein. Brushstroke with Spatter, 1966. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Art Institute of Chicago, Barbara Neff Smith and Solomon Byron Smith Purchase Fund.

View of the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art.

View of LaunchPad technology in the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art.

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, called Il Grechetto. The Creation of Adam, late 1640s. The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of an anonymous donor; restricted gifts of Dr. William D. and Sara R. Shorey, and Mr. and Mrs. George B. Young.

Installation view of Entre Nous: The Art of Claude Cahun at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2012.

Danh Vo. Installation view of We The People (detail), 2010–2013.

Steve McQueen. Installation view of exhibition Steve McQueen at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2012.

Installation view of Fashioning the Object: Bless, Boudicca, Sandra Backlund at the Art Institute of Chicago, 2012.

Studio Gang Architects. Installation view of Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago September 24, 2012–Sunday, February 24, 2013.