The Art Institute of Chicago

Cloud Gate, a.k.a. The Bean

Cloud Gate, a.k.a. The Bean

Camouflaged in the center of downtown Chicago is a beauty sometimes overlooked for Millennium Park right across the street. You know, Millennium Park, the one with the giant bean that everyone takes a photo with when they’re in Chicago? Yes, that one.

So, you ask, what’s the beauty in disguise? It’s the Art Institute of Chicago. And it’s full of beautiful things. For instance, here comes a knight in shining armor.




I’ve always said formal military uniforms are among my top three outfits that make a man doubly sexy (right below a well-tailored suit and right above a doctor’s coat). Or maybe I’m taken with armor because I like ancient things. Or does my fascination with ancient weapons stem from too many historical fiction movies and television shows like Spartacus?


Next, I’d like to share a set of four beautiful paintings. I’ve always been more of a sculpture girl rather than a painting lover, but these got to me. If you can’t quite gauge the size of these canvases, they’re huge. They’d tower over me (I’m 5’6) whether or not they’re resting on the floor or suspended on the wall.

Photographs don’t capture the essence or beauty of these renderings, but suffice to say I could probably linger longer in front of this collection than anywhere else in the museum. Why, specifically? No idea. It’s just a feeling. For a moment I’m ambling about the ruins of a once-great citadel ravaged by warfare, worn down by the elements, neglected by the inhabitants of the new city nearby, and all but forgotten save for these paintings. My hair whips with the wind as I squint my eyes when a gust kicks up loose sand. The sound of little running sandals echoes softly as a child scurries by…. Oh, sorry, there I go again. It’s the paintings; they do that!


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You’d be here all day at my pace, so here’s a quick jaunt through some of my preferred areas: sculptures from the Himalayas, Etruscan relics (I have a soft spot for them since going on an archeological dig), and other curiosities. In times like this, I sometimes wonder if I should use a “real” camera instead of shooting everything on my phone. Then I remember that I prefer to put that camera money towards plane tickets and museums fees. Check out these beauties.



That isn’t nearly enough of a sampling of what you’ll find at the Art Institute, and the sample doesn’t nearly encompass everything there is to see here. I haven’t shown you anything from the Asian displays, Islamic Art, modern art, or modern sculptures. I haven’t shown you anything Native American, Greek, or Southern Italian. Nothing from the photography wing, textiles, or the colonial period. Every time you think you’ve done with the place, you stumble on an entirely new wing altogether. It’s like Harry Potter and the Room of Requirement; you simply decide on what you need to see. So just decide that you need to see this museum already.




And when you’re done, have lunch/snack/coffee in the courtyard, as seen here from the windows of the ancient civilizations collection upstairs.

At $25, your ticket is absolutely worth it.