“We have built an institution for the public, not for the few.”
—Art Institute of Chicago President Charles Hutchinson, 1887
In 1879, our founders embraced a highly populist vision for the museum, making it accessible to all Chicago residents, including new immigrants and young people. Today, a wide range of civic and community partnerships and initiatives across Chicagoland help to catalyze arts participation, encouraging students, artists, scholars, and community members to contribute to the creative life of our city.
Leadership Advisory Committee
The Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC) supports the museum in matters relating to the engagement and advancement of African Americans in the life of the institution.
Museum Education Graduate Scholars Program
A collaboration between the Art Institute and the School of the Art Institute, this yearlong program provides practical experience and theoretical grounding in museum education for 10 graduate students.
Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative (DAMLI)
This new program seeks to create a more equitable internship structure, opening opportunities for Chicago-area students from various backgrounds to pursue careers in the art museum field.
Since the day it opened, the Art Institute offered free admission to K–12 public school educators from Chicago and promoted the integration of art into the curriculum. Today it offers free admission for all Illinois educators and students, and our work with city schools, especially the public schools, remains core to our mission. We manifest this commitment through sustained dialogue with Chicago Public Schools leaders and specialists to ensure program relevance, professional development programs that prioritize CPS educators, partnership programs with and for CPS teachers and students, and ongoing participation in arts education advocacy in Chicago.
As early as 1900 the Art Institute, which is located on Chicago Park District land, extended itself beyond its walls by holding exhibitions and related programming in Park District field houses. In 1935, the museum partnered with the Park District to establish the Garfield Park Art Galleries, which featured exhibitions of art from the collections as well as educational programs at Garfield Park. Today, the museum’s collaborative work with the Park District remains robust. As a member of Museums in the Park, a group of Chicago museums located on Park District property, the Art Institute contributes to the development of joint strategies, arts advocacy, and access initiatives. Each year it joins with 11 peer institutions from parks across Chicago to implement Park Voyagers, a free multi-session museum literacy program designed to diversify and increase museum participation by Chicago children and their parents. Special events and summer youth programs, including youth group visits to the museum, also leverage this historic relationship.
The Art Institute became the Chicago Public Library’s first museum partner in 1987. Together we have pioneered ways to expand access and propel lifelong learning, engage thousands of Chicago residents from the youngest to the oldest, and promote a sense of community through art and reading. Building on this partnership and as a centerpiece of the city’s Summer Learning Challenge, the museum promotes its summer activities for youth and families and its award-winning digital interactive JourneyMaker in the Chicago Public Library’s Explorers’ Guide, which is distributed through library branches to over 100,000 families across the city. Multiple branches representing Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods also participate in museum tours, facilitating further engagement with hundreds of youth and their family members. Occasional workshops for librarians further bolster these activities. In addition, the museum and the library periodically develop programs at the museum and at branch libraries linking the Art Institute’s exhibitions and collections with topics of interest to residents across city and to the library’s own history and resources. These include annual programs as part of the CPL’s signal One Book, One Chicago program, which seeks to engage residents and build community through reading.
See our upcoming public programs.
The museum collaborates with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events on an ongoing basis to shape initiatives, programs, and civic discourse around the arts, actively contributing to citywide efforts such as the 2017 Year of Public Art and 2018 Year of Creative Youth.
Thanks to the leadership support of the Jane Wilson and David Mayhew Stone Charitable Trust, the museum brings together all youth offerings under one suite of activities. Composed of multifaceted and dynamic programming from June to August, Summer Learning engages over 25,000 youth and families in the Ryan Learning Center, the Art Institute galleries, and the larger Chicago community. The breadth of events and activities range from hands-on workshops, tours, partnerships with youth organizations, and educational resources to college and high school internships where young people play a leading role facilitating activities for children and families. All activities cultivate and inspire creativity in children and teens during the critical summer months that bridge academic years. This vital initiative sustains the institution’s role as an important leader in the larger landscape of learning in Chicago, strengthens partnerships across the city, and reaffirms the Art Institute’s dedication to providing accessible programs for youth and families.
See our upcoming public programs.
Each season the museum collaborates with a wide range of people and organizations to develop and present special events and projects at the museum and elsewhere, including concerts, festivals, youth-generated events, community-group visits to the Art Institute, university partner nights, and educator workshops, among other activities. Select partnerships also allow us to offer sustained programs for the public. One example of such extended partnerships is our ongoing relationship with the Alzheimer’s Association, which enables us to offer Art in the Moment, a museum-based program for people with dementia and their care partners.
As a partner member of the Chicago Cultural Alliance, the Art Institute also collaborates on programs with culturally specific CCA member organizations and helps strengthen the ecosystem of the arts in the city.
To inquire about planning a museum visit by your community group or developing a community program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (312) 443-3680.