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Teen Take Over

The Teen Council, a group of 11 teens from all over Chicagoland, has met at the museum since October to explore new ways for youth to engage with the museum. The teens learned the various aspects involved in putting together an exhibition by imagining, curating, designing, and installing one themselves. Because the group felt like the life of a teenager centers on defining oneself, the council landed on an identity-focused themed exhibition entitled [insert YOU here]. For the exhibition, Teen Council members selected artwork that was created by teens around Chicago (and beyond) that represents various perspectives, subjects, media, and art-making techniques.


The exhibition installed in the Ryan Education Center is categorized into four sub-themes: origins, transitions, individuality, and interactions. The individuality panel reveals the tone of the exhibition: “As you begin to separate yourself from your origins, you start to discover who you are and what makes you different from the crowd. The clothes you wear, the books you read, and the places you go all make you 'you'. In this way, you are setting the path for who you will become in the future.”

Across from the main installation, sticky notes expose the creative process for re-envisioning the museum to be more relevant to younger audiences. Scribbled on one note is an idea for “Walls/Floor you can write on.” Many notes include ideas allowing for more personalization, interaction with, and input into the museum experience.  The exhibition has a beautiful corresponding Tumblr, which is also available for browsing on an iPad in the exhibition.


All of the organizing and the exhibiting teens seemed full of pride for having accomplished an installation at the Art Institute of Chicago. Christina, a member of the teen council, said, “I am able to view one of my favorite museums in a whole different way. Being able to plan almost every aspect of the exhibition…from the text on the panels to the way the art is displayed, every piece of it is breathing with our own ideas, hopes, and dreams.”


As part of the exhibition, the Teen Council will host its first Teen event this Saturday, June 8th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Ryan Education Center. The event is free and includes teen art, poetry, dance, fashion, art-making, music, and food. No reservations required.



1) The Art Institute of Chicago Teen Council
2) Teen Council brainstorming
Tags: Education