A Group Guide to Arts & Culture in Chicago
As one of the most influential U.S. cities when it comes to R&B, jazz, architecture, and public art, it should come as no surprise that Chicago’s art scene is as rich as it is diverse. So if your art lovers want to make the most of the Windy City’s art and culture, you’ll need to do a little planning in order to hit the highlights that pique your group’s interests.
Never fear—Chicago Charter Bus Company has put together this guide to Chicago’s top museums, performance venues, and public art installations to help you narrow down your itinerary. And if you ever need help getting there and back, a minibus or charter bus rental might just be the best option for your large group of patrons and art enthusiasts. Call our team at 312-667-0906 to learn more about renting a bus in Chicago, and keep reading to learn more about this city’s best art!
Museums and Cultural Centers
Chicago Cultural Center
Address: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
Not sure where to start your Chicago arts tour? Stopping by one of the most comprehensive art showcases in the United States is a great place to start.
Believe it or not, the building itself is a work of art—it first opened in 1897 as the city’s central library and was considered one of Chicago’s best architectural showcases. Though it was converted into the community center and gallery space in the 1970s, visitors can still take a minute to walk around and admire the Italian Renaissance-style masonry and intricate stained glass domes.
When you’re done exploring the architectural elements, your group can wander around the rotating galleries featuring historic pieces and thought-provoking contemporary art from local artists—all free of charge. In particular, your history class or women’s group may want to pay a visit to the “Rush More” mural outside, which depicts women that have helped build Chicago’s culture scene to what it is today.
Charter bus rental tip: Planning your own event at the Chicago Cultural Center? This venue is a popular spot for get-togethers, fundraisers, and gallery showcases in the heart of the city. You can ease your guests’ and attendees’ experience getting to and from your event by booking a shuttle service to and from the center. That way, no one has to worry about parking downtown, and everyone has a safe ride home!
Art Institute of Chicago
Address: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Often renowned as one of the top art museums in the country, this Art Institute boasts a wide variety of work from historic heavy-hitters and up-and-coming contemporary artists alike. Nowhere else in the city can you admire galleries full of Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and ancient Egyptian and Roman artwork all in one place!
The Art Institute of Chicago is open Thursdays through Mondays, 11 a.m. to 6 pm.—though most veteran visitors will advise you to block off at least half a day to see all the highlights.
Traveling with art history students that are interested in a specific decade? Or do you have a specific theme in mind for your visit? Chances are the Art Institute of Chicago has a tour plan for you. When you reserve your group’s admission to the museum, inquire about one of the many docent-led and self-guided specialty tours available here: from exploring depictions of food throughout the ages to a meditative walk through more introspective galleries.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Address: 220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
If your art lovers are more interested in contemporary work, this museum is dedicated to showcasing art in a variety of media created after World War II. From thought-provoking sculptures made of recycled materials to vibrant mid-century paintings from around the world, the rotating exhibitions of the MCA are some of the most popular artist showcases in the city.
Docent-led tours are available most days of the week on a first-come, first-served basis and last about 45 minutes. If your group of art enthusiasts would prefer something a little more personal, you can also reserve a private tour led by a practicing artist who can give an insider’s perspective to select exhibitions.
Groups of 10 or more can receive discounted admission: $7 tickets for students and seniors and $13 tickets for adults. To qualify for the discount, your travel coordinator will need to reserve tickets two weeks in advance by calling the MCA box office at 312-397-4010.
National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture
Address: 3015 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
Explore Chicago’s rich Puerto Rican culture through this Humboldt Park community center and maker space! This facility showcases a range of traditional and contemporary Puerto Rican art and acts as a resource center for Chicago residents and visitors from across the world.
Here, you’ll find constantly changing art exhibits, family art workshops, lecture series, and the headquarters for Barrio Fest—an annual two-day festival that features live performances by local musicians and poets as well as craft stalls and authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.
Tours of the NMPRAC can be given in either English or Spanish and focus on the diversity of Puerto Rican culture, the current art exhibits on display, and the historical and architectural elements of the building itself. Field trips and tour groups are more than welcome, but the center asks larger crowds to reserve their tours at least two weeks in advance to ensure guide availability.
Charter bus rental tip: Finding adequate parking for your bus rental might be tricky in this area of town. Your driver will likely have better luck heading a few minutes east and parking along the east side of Green Street (between Carroll Avenue and Kinzie Street) or along Elston Avenue (between Le Moyne Street and Potomac Avenue).
Address: 170 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60601
As the home to one of the oldest stage production companies in the city, the Goodman Theatre is a must-see and highlight for many visiting theater lovers. Not only is it historic, but this venue has received many regional and national awards over the years, and in 2007, the Goodman became the first theater to produce a run of all ten plays in August Wilson’s renowned Pittsburgh Cycle.
Groups of 10 or more can save up to 50% on admission on select performances, as well as one complimentary ticket per 50 purchased. Call the box office at 312-443-3820 to snag tickets to your favorite show and to inquire about setting up a one-on-one post-show discussion with the cast and crew!
Second City Theatre
Address: 230 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60614
Did you know that improv comedy as we know it today was invented in Chicago? In fact, the members that founded this theatre’s namesake improv troupe were some of the first founders of the art in the1960s. Many up-and-coming comedians made their start either on this stage or in one of the troupe’s seminars and workshops, including Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Mike Meyers, and more!
The organization offers classes and lectures that cover different aspects of comedy, from writing and acting to music production and directing. Grab a seat at the theatre’s next comedy show or sign up for a group improv class by calling 312-337-3992.
Chicago Public Art
The Cloud Gate in Millennium Park
Address: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602
Also known as “The Chicago Bean,” this mind-bending, reflective sculpture is one of the city’s most iconic attractions! Artist Anish Kapoor was inspired by liquid mercury and created this stainless steel-coated sculpture to reflect the surrounding skyline and lakefront greenspace with distorted angles. Being one of the most popular sculptures in Chicago, your group may have to wait your turn to snap a group selfie under the 12-foot archway of this 3-story permanent installation.
Charter bus rental tip: The park is located in the heart of The Loop—which offers great accessibility to the city’s sights… but limited spaces for oversized vehicles. Hop off your charter bus at the designated unloading zone near the Millennial Park Welcome Center, and your driver can find parking elsewhere while you check out the sculpture.
The Picasso statue in Daley Plaza
Address: 50 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
Fun fact: when this monumental gift from Picasso to the people of Chicago was first erected in 1967, it was met with controversy. The non-traditional steel materials, abstract shapes, and towering 50-foot scale was unlike most public art installations of the time. And as the first modern sculpture features in what would become The Loop, its presence confused many residents. Over the years, though, this larger-than-life Cubist piece has become one of the most beloved sculptures in Chicago and a great photo op for your art-loving tour group.
Agora in Grant Park
Address: 1135 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
Perhaps one of the spookiest public art pieces in the city, this forest of 106 headless, 9-foot cast-iron figures is sure to make for an eye-catching post on your Instagram feed. Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz was inspired by her fear of large crowds when conceptualizing this piece and has created many similar sculptures throughout the world—although this installation is by far the largest.
Charter bus rental tip: If you’re planning to make a stop at this haunting sculpture, we recommend having your driver drop everyone off in the designated loading zone outside the Field Museum, just south of the artwork.
Plan Your Chicago Arts Excursion Today
No matter where your artsy itinerary takes you in the Windy City—to the opera, to a comedy show, or to Millennium Park—Chicago Charter Bus Company is here for you. Easily travel between venues, museums, and more with a personalized bus rental that operates on your schedule. That way, no one will have to wait around for multiple rideshares or taxis to show up, and everyone will arrive all together and at the same time. And with comfortable amenities like free WiFi, reclining seats, and DVD players, your passengers will be able to post their favorite photos to their social feeds, kick up their heels after a gallery tour, and watch a movie on the way back to the hotel.
Our reservation team is available 24/7 to help you work out the details of your Chicago bus rental. Just give us a call at 312-667-0906, and we’ll offer you a free and fast bus rental quote with no obligation to book!
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