June 6, 2011

Hidden gems: unique sights to see in Chicago

Filed under: Creativity,Design & Art,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 2:35 am

Summer is a great time to get out and explore Chicago’s great museums and public spaces. You may be familiar with the well-known spots, but but have you seen some of our hidden gems?

Being a fan of art and nature, I’m constantly seeking out new and interesting places to get my inspiration fix. Here are a few museums, gardens and cultural institutions that you may not have seen yet—tucked away in Chicago’s neighborhoods, along main streets, and in surrounding areas.

Unique sights to see in Chicago…

Loyola University Museum of Art (Magnificent Mile, Chicago IL)

A great stop on your next Magnificent Mile shopping trip, The Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) is located in Lewis Towers, a historic 1926 Gothic Revival building on the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University Chicago. The Museum maintains collections that explore and promote the spiritual in art of all faiths and cultures.

Oriental Institute (Hyde Park, Chicago IL)

One of my favorite local spots, The Oriental Institute is a research organization and museum devoted to the study of the ancient Near East—a fascinating period in art history (and one of my favorites!) The museum displays objects recovered by Oriental Institute excavations in permanent galleries devoted to ancient Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia and others, as well as rotating special exhibits.

The current Huichol exhibit

National Museum of Mexican Art (Pilsen, Chicago IL)

Maybe I’m biased because of my love of Mayan art (not to mention they are one of my clients) but this small museum manages to host some of the most striking art exhibits I’ve seen. Pair that with a rockin’ gift shop and eclectic restaurants and cafes nearby and you have the makings of a great museum trip.

See my blog post about the invitation and gallery graphics I designed for the current Huichol exhibit.

International Museum of Surgical Science (downtown, Chicago IL)

Admittedly I have not visited this museum (I’m scared!), but my friend who is a nurse did and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Museum features historical and modern-day artifacts, paintings and illustrations relating to the medical field. See a listing of current exhibitions.

One of my hand-bound journals

Gallery at the Center for Book & Paper Arts (CBPA) at Columbia College Chicago (South Loop, Chicago, IL)

Did you know Columbia College—my alma mater—has a center devoted to book and paper arts? It sure does and I was lucky enough to study hand bookbinding there post-graduation. The gallery features intriguing book and paper-related exhibitions and lectures. Check the website for gallery hours and current exhibitions.

Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park (Downtown, Chicago IL)

A true respite from the bustling city, the Lurie Gardens are located in the southeast end of Millennium Park, just steps from downtown Michigan Avenue. Stroll through the beautiful wildflowers or attend a free guided garden walk.

…and just outside Chicago

Japanese Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden Regenstein Center (Glencoe IL)

In addition to the breathtaking horticultural displays and lovely walking paths, the Chicago Botanic Garden hosts a wide variety of exhibitions, including photography and artwork. They also have workshops and classes for gardeners and artists. Gardening questions? They also maintain an extensive horticulture library, available to Garden members. I’ve been a member for years and still discover something new on each trip!

Know other hidden gems in Chicago? Leave a comment!