The Art Institute of Chicago collects, preserves, and interprets works of art of the highest quality, representing the world’s diverse artistic traditions, for the inspiration and education of the public and in accordance with our profession’s highest ethical standards and practices.
The Art Institute of Chicago was founded as both a museum and school for the fine arts in 1879, a critical era in the history of Chicago as civic energies were devoted to rebuilding the metropolis that had been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1871. Its first collections consisting primarily of plaster casts, the Art Institute found its permanent home in 1893, when it moved into a building, constructed jointly with the city of Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition, at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. That building, its entry flanked by the two famous bronze lions, remains the "front door" of the museum even today. In keeping with the academic origins of the institution, a research library was constructed in 1901; eight major expansions for gallery and administrative space have followed, with the latest being the Modern Wing, which opened in 2009. The permanent collection has grown from plaster casts to nearly 300,000 works of art in fields ranging from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art. Together, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the museum of the Art Institute of Chicago are now internationally recognized as two of the leading fine-arts institutions in the United States.
Welcome to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), one of the most historically significant accredited independent schools of art and design in the nation located in one of the greatest American cities. Our accolades are many, including recognition by Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism survey as “the most influential art college in the United States” and our consistent ranking among the top three graduate fine arts programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.
SAIC is distinct in the way that it provides graduate, post-baccalaureate, and undergraduate students an interdisciplinary curriculum and the necessary freedom to develop as artists, designers, and scholars. At the same time, we strive for a level of rigor, investigation, and cultural relevance that makes SAIC truly special. Our students translate the most complex ideas into tangible forms—paintings, sculptures, films, performances, books, installations, inventions, buildings, community projects, and, more often than not, a combination of the above. Few schools in the United States provide such a broad range of possibilities.