These Current Exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago Document the Black Experience

The Art Institute of Chicago has consistently been ranked among the top museums in the world. It is also one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country and it can take a few visits to take it all in.

There are a number of resources that make the museum's world-renowned collections are accessible to all:

  • General admission is free to Illinois residents every Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. throughout the year. Admission is always free for children under 14.
  • You may also use the Chicago Public Library's Kids Museum Passport for free admission for a group of up to four people, as long as you have at least one child with you. Just check out the Art Institute Passport from your local library branch as you would a book. 
  • Reduced general admission pricing is also available for students and seniors. Learn more about ticket pricing on the Art Institute website.

The exhibitions listed here are currently on display, showcasing the beauty of the African diaspora and the international Black experience.


Cauleen Smith: Space Is the Place (A March for Sun Ra)

Through August 5, 2018

Smith employed a cinema verité–like style to capture the Rich South High School marching band performance of an experimental composition by pioneering composer and performer Sun Ra.




Volta Photo: Starring Sanlé Sory and the People of Bobo-Dioulasso in the Small but Musically Mighty Country of Burkina Faso

Through August 19, 2018

This exhibition brings together photography and popular music of the West African country to present an immersive experience of a young nation negotiating its various identities.



Charles White: A Retrospective

Through September 3, 2018

Over 80 paintings, drawings, and prints come together to trace Charles White’s four-decade career from his emergence in Chicago through his mature work as artist, activist, and educator.




Never a Lovely So Real: Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950–1980

Through October 28, 2018

Providing a poetic survey of photographers and filmmakers who worked in neighborhoods across the city from the 1950s through the 1970s, this portrait of Chicago speaks to its allure and its brutality.




See a complete list of 300 works throughout the museum by African American artists here.

Learn more about the Art Institute's collection of African art here.


(Exhibition descriptions and images are from the Art Institute’s website.)