Art Institute of Chicago History

The Art Institute of Chicago was founded in 1879. It was located at the corner of State and Monroe streets at that time. Its origins however can be traced back to the year 1866 when it was established by several Chicago artists. During that time it was called Chicago Academy of Design. Through the support of local patrons and members it was able to offer classes and exhibitions on a regular basis. Then it moved to Adams Street in the 1870s. However, the great Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed its rooms on Clark Street. It was also during this time that it encountered financial and administrative problems. The business leaders of the community, in an effort to revitalize the institution, created the board of trustees in 1878. One of the changes that were created was the creation of a multifaceted school supervised by the business leaders, instead of just an educational institution run by artists.

Then in 1882, Art Institute of Chicago became its official name, with the election of Charles L. Hutchinson as its first president. That same year it expanded and built a new building for the school in Michigan and Van Buren Avenues. Then as the city hosted the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 the trustees convinced the leaders of the city to allow it to build a new structure at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street for the fair. It was completed for the second year of the World's Columbian Exposition and the Institute moved that same year to the new building. Its collection also increased since the time when Mrs. Henry Field gave her collection of French Paintings to the museum in 1893. The Fullerton Auditorium and the Ryerson was also added to the building in 1898 and 1901 respectively. Additional expansions were done over the years to house its ever growing collection and increasing number of students.


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