Free day in Chicago tomorrow - what should I do?
June 22, 2017 7:45 PM   Subscribe

I have a mostly and unexpectedly free day in Chicago tomorrow - what should I do with it? Staying downtown near State + Hubbard - was at the Art Institute today. I'm interested in hearing any and all suggestions, but am especially interested in those related to music (esp. garage / punk / noise / jazz / free improvisation / modern classical), visual arts (*very* broadly defined), regional history and culture, natural history, and high quality walking / bike tours.
posted by ryanshepard to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Go to the Murakami exhibit at the MCA. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. (Seriously, it is so worth it even if you don't know his work.)
posted by capricorn at 8:09 PM on June 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't know about the Murakami exhibit, but I came here to say that the MCA is one of my favorite museums and I make sure to visit any time I'm in Chicago. Small, so don't plan on spending a day there, but you'll leave with a smile on your face.
posted by nixxon at 9:05 PM on June 22, 2017

What Capricorn said. Second choice might be an Architectural tour or the Chicago History Museum (in Lincoln Park, but could take a bus) if you aren't wanting to do more art.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 9:18 PM on June 22, 2017

If you count architecture as a visual art - the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Cruise tour is quite good. Also take some time to walk around the Cultural Center, and get yourself lost in the Harold Washington Library (go all the way up to the winter garden).

Chicago is also home to some excellent public art, and you may well be able to create your own walking tour of sorts - see the City of Chicago public art guide to get started. Curbed has a map of Chicago's most iconic pieces, and Time Out just listed some newer pieces.

Pilsen has some of my favorite murals in the city. Nearby, spend ~2 hours at the National Museum of Mexican Art (and stop for lunch at Birrieria Zaragoza or Taqueria Atotonilco on Blue Island).

I also really enjoy the Hubbard Street Murals - they're a bit out of the way, but you could likely make an afternoon of it by stopping at any of the excellent restaurants on Randolph Street in West Loop. Mary Bartelme Park is also worth a look if you happen to be in the area.
posted by staraling at 9:20 PM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

As you may know, Chicago has a strong jazz/improvised music scene, and it's well covered by the Chicago Reader (esp. by Peter Margasak). This show looks promising.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:26 PM on June 22, 2017

You should definitely go to the MCA. I am glad that I saw the Murakami exhibit. I can't say I loved it but I felt like the time I spent looking at it was well spent even if I felt he was a total fraud by the end. There are two other exhibits there as well right now. One of them, by Tania Perez Cordova, I genuinely loved. It wasn't as pretty as Murakami's stuff but it was more fun.

You could check out for jazz/art/modern classical music. I've seen good shows at Pianoforte, Constellation, and Hungry Brain before. But I've never seen any of these particular performers so can't vouch for them. Of the three venues, Hungry Brain is my favorite, for whatever that is worth.
posted by great_radio at 10:44 PM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Driehaus Museum has an exhibit right now called L'Affichomania: The Passion for French Posters featuring advertisements from the Belle Epoque era.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 10:54 PM on June 22, 2017

Thanks, everyone - headed to the National Museum of Mexican Art this afternoon, going to (hopefully) see some jazz at the Hungry Brain tonight.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:38 AM on June 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would say head over to my favorite punk bar Exit but it's a 20 minute subway ride from State and Hubbard and the upstairs music tonight seems to be some sort of techno/house DJ. Downstairs there is always a punk and metal DJ spinning. Still worth a drop by!
posted by Young Kullervo at 7:04 AM on June 23, 2017

Henry Darger's room at Intuit Gallery. It's not too late!
posted by Miss T.Horn at 10:44 AM on June 23, 2017

There's always the Shedd Aquarium.

The MCA is great, but I'll also say that unless you were at the Art Institute from opening to close (and maybe not even then), you didn't take in the whole thing.

And my default recommendation for anyone visiting Chicago: In the evening go to the bar on the top floor of the Hancock Tower, have a moderately overpriced cocktail, and take some time to watch the city. Much more civilized than tourists and glass floors at the Sears Tower.
posted by cmoj at 11:17 AM on June 23, 2017

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