When I became the thirteenth director of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011, the museum was very different than when I arrived here as the Chairman of the Department of Prints and Drawings in 1985. Over the past decades, the Art Institute has constantly developed and evolved, responsive to the rapid transformations of the world at large and of museums more specifically. This website is of course just one example of the museum's adaptation to changing times.
At its heart, though, the museum encourages the individual experience of works of art, the irreplaceable embodiments of the creative impulse from all times and areas. Our mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret these works of art for our 1.5 million visitors annually from around the globe. The Art Institute, founded in 1879, now has approximately 300,000 works of art in its permanent collection, stewarded by eleven curatorial departments and nearly 500 employees. This collection is housed in eight buildings—nearly one million square feet—at the heart of Chicago, one block from Lake Michigan and serving as the eastern anchor of the city's downtown. In addition to displaying the permanent collection, we host 30 special exhibitions and hundreds of gallery talks, lectures, performances, and events every year. We have one of the finest research libraries for art and architecture in the country as well as state-of-the-art conservation facilities that ensure that the art of the past carries on well into the future.
Here you'll find an introduction to the collection, activities, and character of the Art Institute. We encourage you to roam the website just as you would roam our galleries, making connections and discoveries. Welcome to the Art Institute of Chicago.
President and Eloise W. Martin Director