Art Institute of Chicago

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The Art Institute is one of the world's most famous art museums, particularly known for its collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by artists like Monet, Renoir, Seurat and Caillebotte. Galleries housing this collection were renovated in 2008.

Favorite works (aside from the stone lions at the front entrance) include "A Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte--1884" by Seurat, "American Gothic" by Grant Wood and "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper.

Other galleries take visitors through the art of ancient, medieval and Renaissance Europe; decorative arts like the popular Thorne Miniature Rooms; textiles of the world; prints and drawings; architecture and photography.

The museum's new Modern Wing designed by Renzo Piano opened in May 2009. The 264,000 square-foot space features 20th and 21st century works including European painting and sculpture, contemporary art, architecture and design, photography and electronic media. Featured artists include Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and more.

Big temporary shows attract audiences from around the world. Free public lectures and tours are offered throughout the week.