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(Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

(Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

By Tammy Wen, Niles West

Can I just say how much I love art museums?  The last time I visited the Art Institute of Chicago I was there for Portfolio Day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to revisit until much recently. Have no fear, you don’t have to be an artist or culture enthusiast to appreciate these fine works of art. You’ll definitely want to visit the Art Institute of Chicago for these reasons.

1. History here, there, everywhere

Before you jump into a painting, take a step back and look at the date. Doesn’t it feel surreal for a painting to be older than you? Art transcends time. Acclaimed paintings like “Nighthawks” and “American Gothic” pay tribute to certain periods. These were made before my time. Your parents time. Even your grandparents. That being said, art never dies. And neither do their stories. That’s what I love about art from the past. There aren’t always answers about the subject or theme, but hey, that leaves room for creative interpretation.

2. Wait, there are other things?

The Art Institute of Chicago is home to a several mediums of art. From your classical paintings to contemporary photography, there are exhibitions that capture the essence of art in a captivating way. I walked through a section of the museum where it showcased gorgeous marble statues. I passed by Cindy Sherman’s works. I’m not joking when I say the museum is home to pieces from all over the world. They even have a room dedicated to showing… miniature rooms? Talk about the coolest dollhouse ever.

3. Be art, make art, see art

If you’re from the suburbs like me, you’ll be in for a lovely surprise. I regret not coming back here during my junior or sophomore year of high school. However, it’s not too late to immerse yourself in an inspiring and creative environment. Art museums aren’t just for artists. Bring your friend. Your mom. Your cranky neighbor. Your friend who doesn’t do art. I can promise that you’ll walk out seeing the world with greater appreciation. If not, you’ll be getting in touch with the cultural world of art. The experience is what solidifies the moment. Rather than looking at a digital painting of “Elaine”, you can actually stand in front of it. Breathe in its presence. Admire its color palette. Gaze at it from a distance. Perhaps visiting the art museum will inspire your next art piece.

4. Dead artists don’t stay dead

While the museum does contain work dating back centuries and decades, they also have several features of contemporary work as well. Since my previous visit, the museum had works of Cindy Sherman, whose is known for her famous self portraiture photography. I didn’t expect there to be a lot of inclusion of photography but I was pleasantly surprised when the museum paid just as much homage to photography.

5. Just do it. I dare you.

You may be hesitant about visiting because you may not be the type of person that likes art. That’s okay. Art is not easy to understand. Artists? We don’t always understand either. Sometimes, we’re not meant to. That’s the beauty of it. What I really want to get out is, don’t be afraid. Whether you have a fear, distaste, or lack of understanding, there is no better alternative than confronting it. I dare you to go visit the Art Institute and experience art like you’ve never before. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Did you know? The Van Gogh exhibition just opened on Feb. 14!

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