There’s nothing quite as enriching as spending an afternoon museum hopping around or taking a deep dive into a new exhibition. NEMA Chicago’s South Loop apartments are ideally located for exploring the city’s art treasures. Near the South Side and its surrounding neighborhoods are home to one of the city’s best-kept open secrets: its collection of museums worthy of repeat visits throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your own burgeoning art collection, or augmenting your knowledge of ancient or recent history, there’s a museum to satisfy whatever cultural craving you may have.
The Renaissance Society, located on the campus of The University of Chicago, is a contemporary art museum with an illustrious history that spans over a century. This museum, which is free and open to the public, promises its visitors “a uniquely intimate platform” to experience artistic works that “give form to, challenge, and complicate currents in contemporary thought.” The Ren was founded in 1915, and was a pivotal force in championing and bringing avant-garde works and artists like Henri Matisse and Alexander Calder to Chicago. Today, the museum continues to offer an important outlet for experimental and cutting-edge artists, with four exhibits per year by artists both global and local, as well as a series of lectures, concerts, readings, and other events. Upcoming exhibitions include “Fear of Property” this fall, which explores evolving conceptions of property through conversations and contributions by an esteemed group of artists.
From the contemporary outlook at The Ren, we move 10,000 years into the past: The University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute provides an exhaustive look at the artifacts of ancient civilizations. (The Oriental Institute was so named in 1919, the time of its founding, because the Middle East was then termed the Orient.) The scope of this museum reaches into the origins of the first human societies, with 350,000 artifacts that include everything from examinations of the first writing systems, to Neolithic stone sculptures, to a 10-ton limestone bull head from the Achaemenid Empire’s capital, Persepolis.
Finally, no list of the Near South Side’s cherished museums would be complete without the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center. Founded by Margaret Taylor Burroughs in 1961, the then-named Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art would become the nation’s oldest independent African American museum and a celebration of African American art and culture. The museum changed its name at its 60th anniversary to honor Chicago’s Haitian-born founder, Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable, and cemented its place in the city’s history, having welcomed millions to explore its collection of over 15,000 works and artifacts. It has established itself as a place for connection, conversation, and community, and as “a beacon of strength and a refuge of reason.”
From today’s experimental artists to ancient writing systems, and to America’s and Chicago’s history and the future of African American culture, Chicago’s Near South Side museum scene offers the full gamut of time periods and geographical destinations to experience. The only thing left for NEMA Chicago residents to do each weekend is decide which museum to explore next.
Be at the center of it all at NEMA Chicago. Check the NEMA website for availability of these South Loop Chicago rentals.