13 June 2011

An Art Institute Anniversary

This week marks the one-year-anniversary of me working at the Art Institute of Chicago. In the last year I have met an abundance of amazing people, including my current co-workers and my fellow Summer 2010 Museum Education interns (reunion this weekend!). I have gotten to do and see so many crazy things through this place, that I honestly have a hard time believing that it's been an entire year of working at someplace so magical.

So to celebrate this wonderful year, I'd like to make a top-ten list of my favorite things I've done since working here:

1) Touring the Department of Asian Art storage area: I was able to touch ancient Chinese Jade and Bronzes, hold a very expensive china bowl from the Emperor's collection, pick up one of the woven baskets we currently have on display, and brandish a samurai sword.
 Fujinuma Noboru. Spring Tide, c. 2000. Gift of Fujinuma Noboru. 

2) Touring the Department of Conservation:  Let's just say that seeing a Van Gogh and a Manet up close and personal is as life-changing as it sounds. Oh, and I saw them cleaning Marc Chagall's America Windows, one of my all-time-favorites in the museum's permanent collection.
Marc Chagall. America Windows, 1977. A gift of Marc Chagall, City of Chicago, and the Auxiliary Board, commemorating the American bicentennial in memory of Mayor Richard J.Daley. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. 

3) Attending the VIP opening of SOFA: While I spend a large part of my day in the office at my desk, there are some occasional perks. Throughout the year opportunities to attend openings arise, and back in November I was able to attend the VIP opening of SOFA, a design fair, held at Navy Pier. It was awesome.

4) Theme parties: My office will do anything to have an excuse to eat while we are working. We had a Chinese New Year lunch with food from Joy Yee, we celebrated Mardi Gras with a King Cake over-nighted from New Orleans, and for the Royal Wedding we had tea, scones, clotted cream, and sparkling grape juice.
 A green bagel in honor of Saint Patrick's Day and Anthony's Birthday

5) Bus Tours: Occasionally, I get to work bus tours for the Membership Department. I've visited countless galleries including Kavi Gupta, Western Exhibitions, Carrie Secrist, Linda Warren, toured artist's studio spaces, met an amazing variety of working artists such as Ken Fandell, Deb Sokolow, Curtis Mann, Michael Langlois, visited some really great architectural sites including Robie House, U of C Campus, the Glessner house - and had lunch at amazing restaurants like La Sardine, Reza's, and Wishbone. Basically some of my favorite days from the last year I was actually off-site visiting amazing places all over the city.
Robie House
An old TB hospital turned forest preserve on the North Side

6) Gallery Openings: I've seen a variety of shows go up and come down over the course of the last year. My favorites include John Marin's Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism, Contemporary Collecting: Selections from the Donna and Howard Stone Collection, Hyperlinks, Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life, Chicago Scope: The Films of Tom Palazzolo, 1967-1976, and Pae White's (controversial) Restless Rainbow
John Marin. The Red Sun-Brooklyn Bridge (detail), 1922. Alfred Stieglitz Collection.
7) Having an All-Access Pass: I'm not gonna lie, in addition to having an all-access/VIP pass to AIC, I also have reciprocal benefits at museums all over the place. My ID has gotten me into the Milwaukee Art Museum, MOMA, and the MCA, as well as discounted movie tickets at the Gene Siskel film center. Who wants to visit some museums with me??
"Richard Serra skatepark" at MOMA, NYC
Pix-Message phone-foto of Picasso's Les Demoiselles D'Avignon at MOMA

8) Being in the Heart of Downtown: AIC was strategically placed where it currently stands in 1893 with such foresight and intuition. Set miles north of the actual World's Columbian Exposition, the location became a destination reached only by the newly installed "L" train. Now, surrounded by gorgeous architecture, and neighbored by Grant Park and Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, jump-start a trip (getting to the airports and Union Station is easy!), and most importantly, take a lunch break. On nice days I can be found eating in one of our two gardens or Millennium Park. On not so nice days, it helps to have a museum full of amazing art at my disposal.

9) Friends: I have made a ton of friends since working here, but at the core it was the crazy group of interns that I ran around this place with last summer that really left the strongest impression on me. Miss you bros! Anthony, you're quickly climbing up my "favorite people list".

10) Um, I work in an art museum. My favorite book growing up was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - a story of two kids who ran away from home and live in the Met. Well here I am, a kid growing up, leaving home, and running around a world-class art museum. Does it really get any better than that??


  1. You're living my dream! I would give anything to work in the Art Institute, and hopefully one day I can. :)

  2. congrats on your one year anniversary!!!! :D

    touring asian art storage was also a huge highlight, and one of my most favorite memories!!!

  3. Congrats on an entire year! This sounds/looks like such an amazing job. You get to do what you love and see beautiful art everywhere for free. I'm insanely jealous, but know that no one else deserves this more than you.

    I love the Mixed Up Files...Read it first in third grade and again when I was 17 and went to the Met for the first time.

  4. congrats on one year! i love hearing your art institute tales! i hope to get a sandy guttman tour soon... :)

  5. Blog shout out! Thanks, bud! -Anthony