Local's Choice: Chicago Cultural Center - Go for the Architecture, Stay for an Arts Event

April 14, 2018

Local's Choice: Chicago Cultural Center - Go for the Architecture, Stay for an Arts Event

We asked Deana of Chicago's Deana Rose Jewelry to tell us what she would recommend a visitor do if they only have two hours or an afternoon to spend seeing Chicago.  Deana, who says she approaches design “like a surprise waiting to happen”, has created designs that are carried in museums and boutiques across the country.  Her pieces have also had “cameo roles” on network television dramas like The Good Wife which was based in the Windy City.

 For Travelers Who Like:  Given her love of beautiful design, it’s no surprise that Deana recommends that travelers who love architecture and the arts go visit the Chicago Cultural Center.

 Where to Go:   It’s easy to get there since several transit trains stop near the Chicago Cultural Center.  You can get public transit directions on the Cultural Center’s website.  Or just hop in an Uber or Lyft and take the ride to 78 E. Washington Street. The website also has information on tours (every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday), a calendar of events, and a list of exhibits.

What Makes It Special:  The Chicago Cultural Center is a Chicago landmark building.  Opened in 1897, it is the place where Chicago mayors have welcomed multiple US Presidents and international royalty to the city and has become one of the most comprehensive arts centers in the country.  

To say the building is stunning is an understatement. If you love beautiful architecture, you'll drool over the building’s neoclassical design and Italian Renaissance elements.  Designed and built by some of the country’s top architects and craftsmen, it was designed to be an architectural showplace that impressed visitors and proved that Chicago had become a sophisticated metropolis.   

The Randolph Street entrance has an entry hall with a coffered ceiling, green Vermont marble walls, and a curving pink marble staircase.  Or walk through the Washington Street entrance into a grand lobby with walls and a staircase of white marble set with medallions of green marble and intricate mosaics of glass, stone, and mother of pearl. The Sidney Yates Gallery is a replica of the Doge’s Palace, a place in Venice, Italy built in Venetian Gothic style.

The Cultural Center’s website says “Come for the beauty, stay for the events.” Check the website for a list of events and exhibits. The center is celebrating Chicago Dance Month from March 23 – May 18, 2018 and the Chicago Blues Festival on four Fridays in May.  Two interesting upcoming exhibits include Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural which features 36 original panels of the spectacular mural created in 1989 by internationally-known artist Keith Haring and Chicago public school children (March 3 – September 23, 2018) and African American Designers in Chicago (October 27, 2018 – March 3, 2019) which features works that demonstrate the impact of African American designers on advertising and consumer culture.

Do Not Miss:  Deana advises visitors not to miss the building’s two stained glass domed ceilings.  The ceiling on the south side of the building, made of 30,000 pieces of glass and measuring 38 feet in diameter, is reportedly the largest stained-glass Tiffany dome in the world.  The ceiling on the north side of the building is even bigger, 40 feet in diameter, and is an intricate Renaissance design made with 50,000 pieces of glass.





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