Monday, December 12, 2011

AIC: Architecture & Friezes on the facade

The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Michigan Avenue at Adams Street..
    Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge - 1893
  • Gunsaulus Hall [1916] - Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge; Coolidge and Hodgdon
  • McKinlock Court [1924] - Coolidge and Hodgdon
  • Ferguson Wing, north [1958] - Holabird & Root & Burgee
  • Morton Wing, south [1962] - Shaw & Metz & Associates
  • East Wing and SAIC [1977] - Skidmore, Owing & Merrill
  • Rice Wing, south [1988] - Hammond Beeby and Babka
  • Modern Wing, north [2009] - Renzo Piano
Note: Gunsaulus Hall, [built over the Illinois Central railroad] was renovated in 2008, and is now known as Alsdorf Galleries. It houses Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art.. click here..

The Art Institute of Chicago, a Beaux-Arts structure was built in 1893, as part of World's Columbian Exposition. It was the only building at the Exposition outside of the fairgrounds. Like many museums of the day, and many structures designed for the World's Columbian Exposition, the Art Institute was traditional in character, inspired by the architectural conventions of the Renaissance, as taught in the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris..

During the run of the fair, before the Art institute actually moved into the present home, the World's Auxiliary Congress, used the building for meetings. Two areas housed the meetings
The Hall of Columbus [now Fullerton Hall]
The Hall of Washington [now Burnham Library]
The spaces were originally open air courtyards and have been subsequently built into their current forms..
Fullerton Hall, built in 1898..
Ryerson & Burnham Libraries built in 1901 ..

Shelpley, Rutan and Coolidge architects of the building, were successors to the architectural practices of Henry Hobson Richardson. When Richardson died in 1886, the company was formed to complete and carry on his work.

The Art Institute has two-story entrance portico. The first story has five arches, with three central arches leading to museum entry. The second story has three taller, more ornate archways. On either side of these arches, are friezes copied from the Parthenon.

The second story archway..

Frieze on the top left side of the entrance..

Detail of frieze on the top left side of the entrance..

Frieze on the top right side of the entrance..

Frieze on the top right side of the entrance..

On both sides of the entrace portico, the facade is symmetrical. There are seven rectangular windows on the first floor and 5 arched oepnings on the second floor. There are names of famous artists forming a band, and also, there are two frieze panels on either side of the building..

South side of the bldg.: Frieze on the top right side

Some details of the frieze. For more, click here..

Below are images of the four frieze panels, two on either side of the building. Click to enlarge..

South side frieze panel [top left]..

South side frieze panel [top right]..

North side frieze panel [top right]..

North side frieze panel [top left]..

Inside the building, there are more Parthenon friezes. In fact, when founded in 1893, the first artifacts acquired by the Art Institute were dramatic full-scale plaster casts of the great monument of Europe, such as the Parthenon frieze at the top of the east walls of the gallery.


I wish there is more information, especially on the stories behind these beautiful friezes that adorn the AIC building..

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries [Franke Reading Room]..
Fullerton Hall..
AIC: Modern Wing..

References:, click here

1 comment:

  1. Is there a list somewhere of all the artists named on the frieze of the art institute?