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The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago is known for its plethora of museums and cultural exhibits and one of the most well known and visited of those museums is the Art Institute of Chicago. Designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, it has the unique status of being one of the only buildings in Chicago that is built over free standing train tracks.
 
One of the most notable aspects of the Art Institute of Chicago are the two bronze lion statutes located at the western entrance. During the Holiday season, these lions are adorned with wreaths to celebrate the season. When Chicago sports teams make the playoffs, the lions are typically dressed up in the uniform of said team. The lions at the Art Institute are one of the most photographed sites in the city of Chicago.
 
The east entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago is marked by a stone arch that was used in the old Chicago Stock Exchange. When the original Stock Exchanges was demolished in 1972, parts of the building, built in 1894, were transferred to the Art Institute. The arch at the east entrance of the Institute is the arch that was first used at the Chicago Stock Exchange entrance.
 
The Art Institute of Chicago is known for housing a wide variety of art. From the most modern of sculptures and paintings to its collection of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists art works, it has many options for art lovers of all genres. Many people who visit the museum end up spending days wandering through the various corridors in order to take in all the museum has to offer.
 
In fact, the Art Institute of Chicago, with its recent addition of a modern art wing in 2009, has over one million square feet of usable gallery space, making it the second largest art museum in the entire United States. The museum is located on Chicago's famed Michigan Avenue and is an officially recognized Chicago landmark.
 
Another unique aspect of the Art Institute of Chicago are the classes offered by the museum. Whether people just want to learn more about the art housed there through lectures and tours, or whether they're looking to learn how to create their own masterpieces, classes at the Art Institute and surrounding buildings can accommodate them.
 
There are also several libraries housed throughout the first floor of the Art Institute, designated collectively as the Ryerson & Burnham libraries. These libraries contain a wealth of information on various types of art work, periods of art and the history of art. The libraries are used primarily by graduate students and librarians but are open for the public to use or tour.
 
As one of the most prominent landmarks in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago remains one of the most visited attractions in Chicago. The museum is made accessible to all citizens by offering a minimum of one free day or evening per week, with a schedule that changes with the seasons. People of all incomes and interests are free to visit the museum and expand their appreciation and knowledge of art.
 
© 2009 Tracey Shapley.
 
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