Five Lesser-Known Museums Every Chicagoan Must Visit
You’ve seen American Gothic. Now what?
Think museums in the Windy City and what comes to mind?
The Art Institute. The Field Museum. The Museum of Contemporary Art. In other words, the types of places you visit once, check off your list, and then promptly never return to again.
But the city is chockablock with smaller venues that offer something a bit different. Here are five that’ll get you looking at Chicago’s art scene in a whole new way.
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
Chicago has played a big role in the appreciation of artists who labor outside the mainstream and this West Town exhibition and study space is the mother ship. Its last show — Chicago Calling: Art Against the Flow — is now working its way across Europe. But the walls aren’t empty here. Up now through August 4 is work of New Zealander Susan Te Kahurangi King, whose image bank ranges from clowns and Donald Duck to landscapes only she could imagine.
The Arts Club of Chicago (pictured at top)
A very private club with a discreetly public gallery just steps off the retail whirl of North Michigan Avenue, this venue mounts some of the most progressive shows in the city. Founded in 1916, its members have always had an eye for the new, happy to hang pictures that not everyone cared for, whether it was Picasso or Chris Ofili. Be prepared to ponder when you stop by. Amy Sillman’s show (May 22 – Aug.3) plays “upon the physical and emotional demands of mark-making.”
Ed Paschke Art Center
Paschke was a Chicago original, a man whose electric palette and subject matter (strippers, burlesque dancers, Lucha Libre wrestlers) were a real poke in the eye of the polite art world. His spirit lives on in Jefferson Park, where this namesake space celebrates his work and champions the daring of folks such as Grammy Award winning hip-hop artist Wasalu Jaco and multi-media artist Tom Palazzolo. Andy Paczos’s people-less paintings of parking lots and construction sites are up through April 28, followed May 4 by This Must be the Place, artist Lorraine Peltz’s homage to her late husband, critic James Yood, and art-filled life they lived together.
DePaul Art Museum
Committed to Chicago-based artists and emphasizing innovation and inclusion, this place doesn’t mess around. Gender, power, immigration, and appropriation have all gotten a look-see here. Opening April 25 and running through August 11 are Eric J. Garcia’s satirical slams in video, installation, and painting — and New Age, New Age: Strategies for Survival, a group show that examines how the touchy-feely sensibilities of the ‘70s may not have been so silly after all.
Roger Brown Study Collection
The former home and studio of the Chicago Imagist, this 1888 storefront houses a hoard with real cred. There’s work by fellow painters Jim Nutt and Christina Ramberg, a piece by renowned outsider, Henry Darger, and African and Oceanic art. Plus weirdness of all sorts — objects spun of egg cartons, Christmas lights, and glitter, sideshow banners, a Pee Wee Herman doll in its original box. Open by appointment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773.929.2452.