Why You Should Van Gogh to the Art Institute

Summer Abraham

When most high school students hear “Art Institute,” they think of spending hours on their feet while walking around looking at boring, old paintings. Believe it or not, the Art Institute has actually done a lot to change that, but, because of its reputation, many people still don’t want to go visit it. I will admit, I also dreaded the times when my parents dragged me to the Art Institute on my precious weekends, but when I returned to the museum with some of my friends after years of refusing to go, I actually had an amazing time.

We saw the Van Gogh exhibit, the first time all three of his bedroom paintings had been shown together. I had very low expectations for this. I was thinking it would be one room with four walls and three paintings, however, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a timeline of Van Gogh’s life, many of his other paintings, and a life-size replica of his bedroom. I realize this might sound boring to most people and, believe me, it did to me as well, but the exhibit is actually very exciting when you walk through it. The first few rooms are build-up to the bedroom paintings, which are much more interesting to see in person because of the ability to pick out each of the deliberate brush strokes. My favorite part of the exhibit was a video that showed the differences between the three paintings and how they identified them based off of what Van Gogh wrote about in his letters.

The friends I went with were just as excited about the exhibit as I was. Some of their comments after were, “Wait, that was so much cooler than I thought it would be!”, “Can we go through it again?”, and, my favorite, “Thank you so much for forcing me to go to the art museum!!”

The Van Gogh exhibit is the only one like it that I have seen at the Art Institute so far. Many of the others do look like the stereotypical “art museum room,” but it goes to show that the museum is trying to branch out and become more accessible. The Art Institute may sound boring, but once you actually get there you will enjoy looking at all it has to offer. Many Chicago museums, in fact have been making changes to become more friendly to all audiences and I strongly recommend that you check some of them out!