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Ryan Learning Center

The museum’s hub for learning and creativity

RLC Hours

No costs or tickets—the Ryan Learning Center is always free to the public.

days hours
Mon 11–3
Tue–Wed Closed
Thu–Sun 11–3

RLC Location

A light filled hall showing the entrance to the Ryan Learning Center A light filled hall showing the entrance to the Ryan Learning Center

Find us on the first floor of the museum’s Modern Wing. Turn left after you enter at 159 East Monroe.

About the RLC

The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Learning Center (RLC) is the museum’s hub for learning and creativity, a place where you can find art making and interactive experiences all the time.

Whether you’re visiting as a family, as part of a school group, with friends, or on your own, there’s something in the RLC for you. Find out what you can do.

Make With Us

Families, teens, and visitors of all ages—you are invited to come by the Ryan Learning Center’s Art Exchange every day the museum is open to find creative activities and inspiration. Please note that the Art Exchange cannot accommodate visiting student groups.

Two small girls with bows in their hair focus on crafting dioramas in the Ryan Learning Center.

The Artist’s Studio

Take part in a studio project inspired by a work of art in the museum’s collection or a special exhibition. Designed by museum educators and artists, these activities are accessible to children but just as satisfying for adults.

Our current activity, Make a Miniature, is inspired by the Thorne Miniature Rooms. Mix and match textures, colors, and materials to craft an imaginary space of your own.

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Want to create your own very own museum tour? Visit the JourneyMaker kiosks in the RLC and design a personalized gallery adventure full of fun ideas for looking and responding to art together. Choose from eight different story lines, select your works of art, and print your guide—and then head out to the galleries. You can also make your guide before you arrive.

Generous support for JourneyMaker is provided by the Woman’s Board of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Experience With Us

The Ryan Learning Center is a sensory-rich space with areas for exploration and play, including spots for building, reading, imagination, and hands-on discovery. It’s also a place where we showcase the creative work of young artists.

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The Elizabeth Morse Multisensory Gallery

Look, touch, and listen to the diverse range of materials that artists use to create their works of art. Plus, try your hand at a pattern-rubbing station featuring patterns inspired by objects in the collection. Located adjacent to the RLC entrance, the Multisensory Gallery is accessible whenever the museum is open.

Dive deeper into your sensory exploration by listening to audio stops available through the Art Institute’s free app. You’ll find us at stops 51–54 and 56.

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The Trott Gallery

Art + Science: A Horse of a Different Color

Put on a lab smock, grab a research guide, and play your way through this interactive installation exploring how museum conservators use art and science to care for works, like the two historic carousel horses on display.

This project is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OISE 1743748.

Learn With Us

Whether you’re ready to plan your visit or want to dive deeper into programs and resources for learning with the museum, we have tips and tools for you below.

A teacher participates in a workshop at the Ryan Learning Center.

Educator Resources

Explore accessible resources for your classroom, find support from experienced museum educators for integrating works of art in your teaching, and learn more about professional development opportunities.

Explore resources
A teen uses headphones in the museum


Meet new people. Look at art. Make art. Be inspired. Find out how to get involved in internships and programs designed by teens, for teens.

Find teen opportunities
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With free admission for kids under 14 and Chicago teens under 18, the Art Institute is the perfect place for a creative outing with the whole family.

Plan your family visit
Three students working together at a desk.

K–12 Student Groups

The museum is a great place for you and your students to learn. Choose from a wide variety of museum experiences that support classroom learning and meet students where they are.

Plan your student group visit

Get in Touch

Volunteer or Intern with the RLC

Find out how to become involved as a volunteer or teen intern in the Ryan Learning Center.

Feedback or Questions

Let us know about your experience, or share a picture of something you made at the museum.


Sign up for the RLC enewsletter for updates.


No, you never need a museum ticket to visit the RLC. It is free every day the museum is open, Thursday–Monday, and our hours are 11:00–3:00.

Everyone is welcome in the RLC. We have activities that are designed for specifically kids and families, but other areas are inviting to visitors of all ages.

The public space of the RLC, the Art Exchange, is designed for families and individual visitors; we are not able to accommodate groups. School groups can schedule a museum visit with our K–12 Student Experiences team. The museum also offers opportunities specifically for college and university groups.

We do not offer the RLC as a space for private events. There are several other spaces in the museum that are available to rent as an event venue.

Yes! Illinois educators receive free admission to the museum. Fill out this form to receive your complimentary ticket.

The RLC offers drop-in art-making opportunities every day the museum is open, and we also offer one-day family workshops and teen studio workshops throughout the year. We do not offer ongoing art classes for young people. The art school affiliated with the museum, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, does offer classes for children through teens. You can find more information at SAIC Continuing Studies.

The RLC Art Exchange offers a range of materials for early learners, including blocks, soft and board books, and stacking toys and puzzles. The ongoing art-making activity is also appropriate for young children with help from their caregivers.

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