Chicago: Rest, rejuvenate, rock

April 1, 2009

While you're making plans for the 2009 AUA annual meeting (April 25-30), be sure to pencil in some time to savor the wealth of recreational, cultural, entertainment, and dining opportunities offered in this west coast (of Lake Michigan) city.

While you're making plans to take advantage of the educational programs and activities offered during the 2009 AUA annual meeting (April 25-30), be sure to pencil in some time to savor the wealth of recreational, cultural, entertainment, and dining opportunities offered in this west coast (of Lake Michigan) city.

Getting started

If this is your first visit here, consider a stop at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.; 312-742-1182; http://egov.cityofchicago.org/), home of the Visitor Information Center. This architectural gem, designed in the Beaux Arts style, was the site of the Chicago Public Library from 1897 until 1991. Now it offers hundreds of programs and exhibitions presented annually by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. It is open Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Welcome Center (201 E. Randolph St.), found in the Northwest Exelon Pavilion, offers maps of the park and program schedules. Key features include the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue designed by Frank Gehry; the interactive Crown Fountain created by Jaume Plensa; and the Cloud Gate sculpture on the SBC Plaza by Anish Kapoor. For a self-guided audio tour, stop by the Chicago Shop at Millennium Park (second floor, Northeast Exelon Pavilion) to rent the program or download the tour to your MP3 player at http://www.antennaaudio.com/millenniumpark.shtml/.

Museums

The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-443-3600; http://www.artic.edu/ ) boasts one of the finest collections of European paintings in the world. Works date from the Middle Ages through the mid-20th century. Its most significant holdings are the collections of Impressionist and Postimpressionist art as well as modern paintings and sculptures. American paintings span the periods from the 18th century to 1950 and decorative arts, from the 17th century to the present. Notable artists include Georgia O'Keefe, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Grant Wood, and Edward Hopper. Adults, $12; children, $7.

The exclusive exhibit "Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth" runs Feb. 14 to April 26. Munch's paintings, prints, and drawings, set in the context of his European contemporaries, including James Ensor, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet, reveal surprising connections.

Swing by the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave., 312-280-2660; http://www.mcachicago.org/), which houses more than 6,000 works created after 1945. The museum is located just one block east of Michigan Ave., in the heart of the Magnificent Mile. Admission is free on Tuesdays, when it is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hours: Wednesday through Sunday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays. Adults, $10; children under 12, free.

The featured exhibit through June 12 is "Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe," which explores Fuller's wide-ranging, sometimes controversial role in the spheres of art, architecture, and utopian thought.