Art Institute: Chicago's Cultural Pearl

Article excerpt

Byline: Madeleine Doubek Daily Herald Staff Writer

Editor's note: Each day for the last 100 days of the 1900s, the Daily Herald is taking a snapshot look at one of our institutions - places that have played a key role in bringing us to the dawn of a new century.

Muscular and majestic, the lions have been standing watch almost from the start.

The Art Institute of Chicago's current home on Michigan Avenue opened in 1893. The bronze lions have prowled the main entrance for 105 years, since 1894.

The sculptures themselves, with their green patina, have become a Chicago institution. They hint at the masterful art icons awaiting discovery in the museum's halls behind them.

El Greco's "Assumption of the Virgin." Chagall's "The America Windows." O'Keeffe's "Wall Above Clouds." Seurat's "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte." The masterworks, too many to name, helped make the institute both a local treasure and a world-renowned art museum.

"What makes us the institution we are is, first and foremost, our standing collections," said Eileen Harakal, the Art Institute's public affairs executive director. …