The Art Institute of Chicago

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April 24, 2010

Last weekend I was in Chicago and after hitting the show floor at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and visiting Mies van der Rohe's 880-860 Lake Shore Drive Apartments, I traveled along Michigan Avenue to the Art Institue of Chicago. Home to Georges Seraut's famous A Sunday on La Grande Jatte pointalism piecea and Grant Wood's iconic--and much impersonated--American Gothic, the museum also boasts the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing (which opened in May 2009), an impressive mid-century modern collection, and artifacts from the city's--and world's--early skyscrapers. I swung by on Sunday to check out the goods.

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  The Modern Wing, designed by famed environmentally minded architect Renzo Piano recently awarded LEED silver certification, opened in May 2009 and houses the Art Institute of Chicago's modern European, contemporary, architecture and design, and photography galleries.  The Nichols Bridgeway, a 625-foot pedestrian walkway, arches over Monroe Street and offers views of the city skyline, Lake Michigan, and Millennium Park.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The Modern Wing, designed by famed environmentally minded architect Renzo Piano recently awarded LEED silver certification, opened in May 2009 and houses the Art Institute of Chicago's modern European, contemporary, architecture and design, and photography galleries. The Nichols Bridgeway, a 625-foot pedestrian walkway, arches over Monroe Street and offers views of the city skyline, Lake Michigan, and Millennium Park.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Looking down the Modern Wing on the second floor, you can see hints of Millennium Park through the northern wall of glass. Above is Piano's "flying carpet" roof that was designed to let natural light into the gallery spaces without causing damage to the pieces on exhibit.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Looking down the Modern Wing on the second floor, you can see hints of Millennium Park through the northern wall of glass. Above is Piano's "flying carpet" roof that was designed to let natural light into the gallery spaces without causing damage to the pieces on exhibit.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The Modern Wing's double-skin envelope creates a climate-controlled interior that helps regulate the temperature and humidity in the galleries. The white oak flooring extends through the space, including the benches, designed by Piano to match the floors. Here, a view of the atrium (left) and second floor hallway (right).  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The Modern Wing's double-skin envelope creates a climate-controlled interior that helps regulate the temperature and humidity in the galleries. The white oak flooring extends through the space, including the benches, designed by Piano to match the floors. Here, a view of the atrium (left) and second floor hallway (right).

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Here, a clear view of Millennium Park and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by another Pritzker Prize winner, Frank Gehry, through the northern end of the Modern Wing.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Here, a clear view of Millennium Park and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, designed by another Pritzker Prize winner, Frank Gehry, through the northern end of the Modern Wing.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The man pictured here was not looking at any piece of art or sculpture in the gallery but instead looking past the glass to Millennium Park and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. I loved this moment because it showed the power of architecture to frame a view and engage the user.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The man pictured here was not looking at any piece of art or sculpture in the gallery but instead looking past the glass to Millennium Park and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. I loved this moment because it showed the power of architecture to frame a view and engage the user.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The architecture and design wing was closed during my visit but there was plenty of other works to view, like 20th Century American Decorative Arts and Architectural Fragments, in addition to the institute's must-sees: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat and American Gothic by Grant Wood.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The architecture and design wing was closed during my visit but there was plenty of other works to view, like 20th Century American Decorative Arts and Architectural Fragments, in addition to the institute's must-sees: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat and American Gothic by Grant Wood.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The 20th Century American Decorative Arts exhibit featured a slew of mid-century-modern furnishings, including George Nelson's Ball clock, the Nelson Platform Bench, the Nelson Coconut Chair, Eero Saarinen's Tulip Chair with arms, and the Eames Chaise by Charles and Ray Eames.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The 20th Century American Decorative Arts exhibit featured a slew of mid-century-modern furnishings, including George Nelson's Ball clock, the Nelson Platform Bench, the Nelson Coconut Chair, Eero Saarinen's Tulip Chair with arms, and the Eames Chaise by Charles and Ray Eames.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Also on display by the Eameses: The Eames Molded Plywood chair and Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Also on display by the Eameses: The Eames Molded Plywood chair and Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Also on display, the Noguchi Table by Isamu Noguchi and the Cherner Armchair by Norman Cherner.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Also on display, the Noguchi Table by Isamu Noguchi and the Cherner Armchair by Norman Cherner.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The display also included the Desk and Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright for Steelcase.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The display also included the Desk and Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright for Steelcase.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Here, one of Frank Gehry's cardboard chair creations and a seat by Robert Venturi.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Here, one of Frank Gehry's cardboard chair creations and a seat by Robert Venturi.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  In the Architectural Fragments display in the grand staircase were pieces of iconic and noteworthy buildings, including a plate (bottom right) from the Rookery Building, one of the world's early skyscrapers, built by Burnham and Root in 1886.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    In the Architectural Fragments display in the grand staircase were pieces of iconic and noteworthy buildings, including a plate (bottom right) from the Rookery Building, one of the world's early skyscrapers, built by Burnham and Root in 1886.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The column on the left is a remnant from the Schiller Building, built in Chicago by Adler and Sullivan in 1892 and demolished in 1961.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The column on the left is a remnant from the Schiller Building, built in Chicago by Adler and Sullivan in 1892 and demolished in 1961.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Here, a terracotta block from the Railway Exchange Building, design by Daniel Burnham and Company and built in 1904 then later restored in 1983.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Here, a terracotta block from the Railway Exchange Building, design by Daniel Burnham and Company and built in 1904 then later restored in 1983.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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