Looking to cram on some culture and fire up the creative within you? Get inspiration from some of Chicago's finest arts and culture venues. Bursting with world-class artworks, pioneering architecture, and iconic literature, a wealth of institutions await just a short distance from the South Loop apartments at NEMA Chicago. Let's take a look.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Perhaps the city's most famous cultural institution, The Art Institute of Chicago is open for business, bidding you to gorge on a feast of world-renowned artworks. Founded in 1869, The Art Institute of Chicago is also one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. The show of the moment is “Monet and Chicago,” which recalls the Monet-mania of the late 19th century. The French artist was exhibited here in 1888, leading the Chicago Daily Tribune to quip: "Why go to Paris since Paris has come to Chicago?" Among the canvases are some of Monet's iconic water lilies. Elsewhere, the museum is displaying works by Louise Lawler, Tetsuya Noda, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art is bristling with exhibitions right now. Explore concepts of how we estimate worth here in the U.S. with the thought-provoking “Alien vs. Citizen” exhibition. It stars a roster of great artists, including Andres Serrano, Kerry James Marshall, and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. Rediscover the story of Illinois through the eyes of Deborah Stratman with her epic 11-part historical documentary, “The Illinois Parables.” Be wowed by Ad Minoliti's “Drag King Mural” — which demands to be gawked at in the museum's majestic Kovler Atrium space — thanks to its bold abstract shapes and arresting use of color.

Chicago Architecture Center

The Home Insurance Building, often considered to be the world's first skyscraper, rose in Chicago in 1885, so it's fitting that there's a museum dedicated to the city's pioneering achievements in architecture. The star attraction at the Chicago Architecture Center is an interactive city model consisting of over 4,000 buildings, which comes to life with narrated stories of how Chicago was built. After enjoying the “God's-eye view,” explore the center's other exhibits, including a gallery where you're catapulted into the future to imagine what the Chicago of 2050 might be like.

American Writers Museum

Chicagoans know a thing or two about putting pen to paper; Ernest Hemingway grew up here, after all. At the American Writers Museum, explore the novels, poems, lyrics — and even ad taglines — that shaped the nation's identity. Then, tap into the thoughts, habits, and inner processes of great writers (and even try penning something yourself) at the Mind of a Writer Gallery. The museum also invites you to explore the city's own lineage of eminent authors in the Wintrust Chicago Gallery, which celebrates local poets, novelists, and journalists. From Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow, to Mexican-American novelist, poet, and short-story writer Sandra Cisneros, you'll be inspired to stock up your NEMA apartment with these writers' works.

All of these venues are exercising COVID-19 precautions via timed bookings and social distancing. This season, take some time to yourself to explore your neighborhood museums and get inspired while diving into the world of the arts, all within close proximity to your home at NEMA Chicago.