As part of the University of Chicago Campus, the Smart Museum has a passion for making art available to the general public. A site that is meant to motivate questions and the exchange of ideas, this museum encourages the use of art and the arts to examine the issues of life. Incorporating diverse ideas and experiences, the museum’s exhibits, collections and academic programs reflect the world through the eyes of individuals both now and throughout history.
Not to Miss at the Smart Museum of Art
This free-entry museum is open to the public and features rotating exhibits that are fresh every few months or so. Plan to be inspired, delighted and surprised by your visit to the Smart Museum of Art! Each time you visit, you’ll get a new perspective on art from new exhibitions featuring art and artists of all kinds, shapes, sizes and varieties.
Vera and A.D. Elden Sculpture Garden. If the weather is agreeable, don’t forget to wander outside through the sculpture garden to view works by Jene Highstein, Richard Hunt, Scott Burton and more. It’s located in the courtyard just between the Smart Building and the Art History building. Look for natural landscape design with native plantings, river stones and more. Have a seat outside and enjoy!
Smart Museum of Art Amenities
As a small museum, amenities are limited, but the Smart Museum does provide these services:
- Guests who have disabilities may park in the Young parking lot, immediately west of the museum.
- Those in wheelchairs and with mobility limitations should enter the museum through the courtyard from the west gate by Ellis Avenue.
- The Smart Museum galleries are accessible to wheelchair users and others with mobility issues through the use of ramps
- One complimentary wheelchair is available for guest use.
- Public facilities include a single-user restroom.
- Strollers may be used throughout the gallery.
Free Wi-fi is available for visitors to the Smart Museum of Art.
Café is Closed
Unfortunately, the café is now permanently closed.
What’s Nearby the Smart Museum of Art
Its location on the University of Chicago campus makes the Smart Museum of Art ideally located in the center of the “Culture Coast” Community. Find a variety of other interesting attractions and activities nearby, such as:
- The Museum of Science and Industry
- The Oriental Institute Museum
- Frederick C. Robie House (for Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts)
- Dusable Museum of African American History
- The Renaissance Society Art Gallery
- The Joseph Regenstein Library
- Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
Getting to the Smart Museum of Art
Located on the north side of the University of Chicago Campus, The Smart Museum of Art can be accessed by public transportation, bicycle or car.
From downtown, take Lake Shore Drive to 57th Street west and head toward the university. Using the Dan Ryan Expressway, exit at Garfield Blvd. and travel east toward the campus.
While driving to the Smart Museum shouldn’t be too difficult, parking might be! Its location on the university campus means that parking during daytime/class hours can be complicated. When spaces are available, street parking is metered. The Campus North parking garage is located on 55th Street and Ellis Avenue.
CTA buses that service the university campus include #2 Hyde Park Express, #4 Cottage Grove, #55 Garfield. Or take the Metra to the 55th-56th-57th Street Station and walk several blocks to the museum.
As long as the weather is good, biking to the Smart Museum of Art is ideal for avoiding headaches with parking and traffic. If you own a bike, then you’ll find bike racks readily available outside most buildings on the university campus. Or, make use of Divvy bike share system, with the closest stations at Ellis Avenue & 55th Street or University Avenue & 57th Street.
When to Go to the Smart Museum
When it comes to the Smart Museum of Art, visitors and locals alike can go time and again without getting bored. Galleries are closed intermittently to allow time for new installations (usually for a couple of weeks at a time), so it’s important to follow the website carefully to know when it’s open.
Regular hours are Tuesday through Sunday 10am-5pm, with extended hours until 8pm on Thursdays. Galleries are closed on Mondays and on major US holidays.
Smart Museum of Art Insider Tips
- The Smart Museum of Art is small and typically would require only an hour or so to view the exhibits.
- Large bags and backpacks are not allowed into the galleries and much be checked in at the door.
- Cell phones should be silenced before entering the gallery.
- Bring your camera if you like, as photographs for personal use are welcomed (no flash).
- If you’re an artist, feel free to sketch with graphite pencil on a handheld pad!