Tuesday, I dropped the kids at school and ducked out with another artist Mom, for a sneak peek at The Modern Wing. Renzo Piano really got it right. The place is light, airy, spacious and amazing. I loved all the light wood, high ceilings and the soft window coverings that allow for viewing of Millennium Park. The park is connected to the museum via bridge and is prominently visible through all the north facing gallery windows. Many of our favorite paintings migrated over to the new 2nd and 3rd floors.
Our tour led us first through the education wing, where I was jolted awake by the bright orange floor. Even the classrooms are funky and fun, featuring a giant measuring stick up one wall and comfy, modern furniture. It's such a marked contrast to the small, windowless basement that served as the prior education center.
Visiting school groups will have an invaluable new resource for the arts. And the children's wing will be a refuge for daily family art projects and an expanded education program. This area of the museum will remain free, and not require tickets for access or programming. Many classes will still require advanced registration, but free, open drop in programs will be available for last minute creative types.
We've been fervent fans of The Art Institute for years. They have wonderful, free art classes for children. When my two were smaller, we were regulars at The Mini Masters classes for 3-5 year olds. Then when Du turned 6, we moved on up to Drawing In The Galleries. They let Sagezilla draw and learn with the big kids even though she was only 4.
Last year, the kids were both quoted and photographed with their self portraits, by a Tribune writer, during one of their drawing classes. I told them most adults have never had their art and words printed in The Trib, but they both made that milestone before they hit kindergarten and 2nd grade.
I can't wait to introduce the kids to the new space at the grand opening party tomorrow.
For more information on The Art Institute's world class family programming and particulars about tomorrow's festivities, click on this link.