Where to relax in the Modern Wing.
The Modern Wing adds 65,000 square feet of galleries to the Art Institute of Chicago—and as the museum’s exhibition space increases a staggering 30 percent, visitors’ need for caffeine grows proportionally. Dropping by for an hour ceases to be an economical option for nonmembers on May 23, when general admission increases to $18 ($16 for Chicago residents).
Fortunately, the Modern Wing contains several places where you can relax and regain your strength for the journey through 20th-century paintings. We’re most excited about the second-floor Balcony Café, which overlooks the building’s two-story Griffin Court. The café allows patrons to read its books and magazines about art, design and architecture while they recharge with coffee and snacks, which could spike the number of pretentious comments overheard in front of the Gerhard Richters.
More substantial eats are available on the third floor of the Modern Wing at Terzo Piano, which is run by Spiaggia’s Tony Mantuano. (If the formal Italian restaurant is too fancy for your budget, stroll over to the Garden Café in the Art Institute’s main building.) Terzo Piano adjoins the Bluhm Family Terrace, a spacious outdoor sculpture garden with a fantastic view of Millennium Park (and a direct link to it, via the Nichols Bridgeway). Visitors can enjoy both without paying museum admission. The Terrace’s first exhibition highlights chairlike sculptures by American artist Scott Burton (1939–89).
Back on the first floor, if your eyes glaze over somewhere in contemporary photography, catch up on what you miss with a book from the Modern Wing Shop; there’s a Kids’ Shop in the Ryan Education Center to distract your tots from their aching feet. The outdoor east-facing Pritzker Garden offers places to sit and contemplate the works you’ve just seen—or, depending on the time of year, the chaos of Lollapalooza. Philistines.