One of the city's most well-known cultural buildings—thanks to the iconic pair of bronze lions that flank grand steps leading up to the entrance—the Art Institute of Chicago is just as impressive once you make your way inside. With almost 300,000 artworks in its permanent collection, you'll find thousands of paintings, sculptures, photos and drawings displayed throughout a sprawling complex of galleries and halls. If you're a first-time guest, make a beeline for Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (as seen in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—high and low culture is the best combo, after all) and the contemporary collection in the Modern Wing. Returning visitors can explore the Thorne Miniatures Rooms (reportedly a favorite of director Wes Anderson) in the museum's basement, as well as traveling exhibits devoted to the likes of Salvador Dalí and Van Gogh. There’s arguably too much art at this institution—at least, too much for one day—but we're not complaining.
Chicago is home to a world-class collection of museums and cultural institutions—all of which are worth visiting. Want to see premiere pieces from famous artists? Take a trip to the Art Institute or Museum of Contemporary Art. Love everything related to natural history and dinosaurs? Then the Field Museum is calling your name. Whether you enjoy art, science, history or architecture, the city’s many museums are some of the top Chicago attractions and provide a great way to spend an afternoon. And you don’t have to break the bank as most have free museum days or offer free admission all year round. So plan a day to explore the best museums in Chicago and get ready to learn a thing or two.
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