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BEST Things To Do In Chicago Today

The Event Oracle knows ALL the fun things to do in Chicago. Select your date above then scroll down for all the Arts, Entertainment, and Events in my crystal ball...

  • Thomas D. Mangelsen – A Life in the Wild

    Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
    2430 N. Cannon Dr.
    Chicago, IL 60614
    Thomas D. Mangelsen – A Life in the Wild

    Renowned nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen has traveled the world for over 40 years, observing and photographing the Earth’s last great wild places. Featuring rare moments and vast panoramas, Mangelsen’s extensive portfolio includes millions of images of wild animals and landscapes, from polar bears in the Arctic to tigers in India.

    A Life in the Wild showcases 40 of Mangelsen’s signature, award-winning photographs of wildlife and landscapes on all seven continents. Every image was captured by Mangelsen under natural conditions and involves no digital manipulation, demonstrating his sensitivity to animal behavior and masterful skill in waiting for the “picture perfect moment” often in the face of hostile environmental conditions.

  • ALL WELL AND GOOD

    Circle Contemporary
    2010 W. Carroll
    Chicago, IL 606022
    ALL WELL AND GOOD

    I heartily doubt there is anything new that I could say about color in art. I’m open to it; but, I humbly admit that my experience of colorful form is often subjective and ineffable. No surprises there, I’m sure.
    What I can say about color in this exhibition though, and how that color is manifested through each chosen material, is that I’m frequently struck silent (in all those good ways that one wants to be struck silent) when in the presence of it. Not a somber silence by any means, but more a silence where you notice your heartbeat is in sync with your sight.
    During one of the planning meetings with the Curatorial Committee at Arts of Life, Susan Pasowicz told me, “Color is all well and good, but what about a grey show? Lots of color gets really busy, but grey and black are calming and they let you stop and breathe and think.”
    In selecting works for this show, I’ve tried to pay attention to when color lets me stop and breathe and think. No doubt this is a colorful, seemingly busy exhibition. But I think it might also be a grey place. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

  • Jonathas de Andrade

    Museum of Contemporary Art
    220 E. Chicago Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60611
    Jonathas de Andrade

    At once intimate and historical, the work of Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade evokes love, memory, and place. His photographs, installations, and videos often respond to the geography and culture surrounding Recife, the city in the northeast region of Brazil in which he lives and works. He grapples in particular with the promises, failures, and inequities of Brazil’s “modernist project” as the often-overlooked region undergoes rapid and often rocky urbanization. This exhibition will be the artist’s first solo presentation in a major US institution. This exhibition is organized by José Esparza Chong Cuy.

  • Waking the T. rex 3D: The Story of SUE

    Field Museum
    1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
    Chicago, IL 60605
    Waking the T. rex 3D: The Story of SUE

    In this thrilling 3D adventure, scientists trace the events of SUE’s life, following this T. rex’s growth from a tiny hatchling to seven tons of pure carnivorous glory. Learn the amazing story of SUE’s discovery in South Dakota’s badlands, and join Field Museum paleontologists on an excavation as they search for and excavate ancient fossils. If seeing the world’s largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton gives you goosebumps, dare to come face-to-face with this roaring, earthshaking, and breathtaking dinosaur like never before. 

  • Treehouse Trails

    Chicago Children’s Museum
    700 East Grand Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611-3428
    Treehouse Trails

    Camp, climb, burrow, and pretend in this enchanted forest setting. Canoe and fish in the blue river, splash in a mountain waterfall, build a fort under the enormous tree house, and serve a stew in the log cabin. Babies can stretch, explore, and relax in the new infant area.

  • Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos

    Wrightwood 659
    659 W. Wrightwood
    Chicago, IL 60614
    Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos

    Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos, the official U.S. entry at the recently-concluded 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, will be on view for the first time in the United States at Wrightwood 659, a new art space located at 659 W. Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, from February 15 through April 27, 2019. Devoted to exploring the notion of citizenship today and the potential role of architecture and design in creating spaces for it, Dimensions of Citizenship comprises seven unique installations, each created by a transdisciplinary team of architects and designers. Commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and The University of Chicago (UChicago) on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the U.S. presentation of Dimensions of Citizenship on view at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago is made possible by Alphawood Foundation Chicago. The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of public programs exploring citizenship and belonging, including talks, performances, workshops, and engagement with local partners (to be announced shortly).

  • Skyline

    Chicago Children’s Museum
    700 East Grand Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611-3428
    Skyline

    What’s the strongest shape? Find out when you design and build your own one-of-a-kind structure using wooden struts, real tools, and authentic gear. Take the Skyscraper Challenge to record yourself at work and tell the story of what you did. Includes special activities for babies and toddlers.

  • Zoom Room

    Chicago Children’s Museum
    700 East Grand Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611-3428
    Zoom Room

    Get ready for high-octane fun! Zoom Room puts kids in the driver’s seat as they send toy cars hurtling through the curves, loops, dips, and crash sites of a colossal, multilevel race course.

    Developed and designed by Chicago Children’s Museum, Zoom Room features hundreds of toy cars and more than 40 tracks of every length, height and angle, including two bi-level crash courses. It’s the ultimate toy car experience— for children and adults.

  • THE COLLECTION: Where Art Meets Fashion

    Fashion Outlets of Chicago
    5520 Fashion Outlets Way
    Rosemont, IL 60018
    THE COLLECTION: Where Art Meets Fashion

    THE COLLECTION: Where Art Meets Fashion, the multifaceted contemporary art program of Fashion Outlets of Chicago, will welcome a rotating exhibition by 2018 Olympic costume designer Dr. Keysook Geum to the shopping center this February. Dr. Keysook Geum’s rotating exhibition will feature three life-sized sculptural forms, entitled Enlightenment III, Nirvana in Red IV and NIGHTINGALE. Dr. Geum is an author and professor of Textile Art and Fashion Design at Hong Ik University in Seoul, Korea, and recently served as the Artistic Director for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in 2018, designing both the uniforms and dresses worn in the opening ceremony. Dr. Geum’s dramatic sculptures of elegantly posed forms embody the fusion of timeless Asian aesthetics and philosophy with contemporary air. They are constructed of paper-wrapped or enamel coated wires, gems, beads and silk. Starting with a central focal point, Dr. Geum works outwardly in a concentric manner reminiscent of a spider. As the artist weaves, twists and bends wire two-dimensionally, intricate forms and unintentional patterns emerge. The natural tensions of interlacing wire push and pulls out until ¬-figurative shapes begin to take form.

  • Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Tribal Enterprises & Co-ops

    Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
    3001 Central St
    Evanston, IL 60201
    Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Tribal Enterprises & Co-ops

    As there are no reservations in Illinois, most tribal based businesses are not well known in this area. While many people are familiar with the arts, crafts, and casinos, there are many other products and services offered by Indigenous businesses today.

    The Mitchell Museum is proud to present the latest exhibit showcasing Indigenous-owned businesses, tribal co-ops and enterprises; Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Tribal Enterprises & Entrepreneurs about the expansion of tribal initiatives that support tribal sustainability and the incorporation of tribal values into business models.

    The exhibit also covers the challenges that many tribal entrepreneurs face, their unique opportunities based on their sovereign nation status, and the programs that offer them support. Learn about the various products and services offered by tribal enterprises and Indigenous entrepreneurs, from Ioway Honey to buffalo meat Tanka Bars!

  • Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell

    National Museum of Mexican Art
    1852 W. 19th street
    Chicago, IL 60608
    Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell

    Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell is the first comprehensive retrospective of photographer Laura Aguilar (1959-2018), as it assembles the largest collection of her work spanning three decades. In photographs that are frequently political as well as personal, Aguilar offers candid portrayals of herself, her friends and family, and her Chicana/Latina and LGBT communities. With her iconic triptych Three Eagles Flying (1990), Aguilar set the stage for her future work by using her nude body as an overt and courageous rebellion against the colonization of Chicana identities: racial, gendered, cultural, and sexual. Despite using the body to center her visual discourse, Aguilar never intended to speak for any specific political or feminist ideology. On the contrary, her practice intuitively evolved as she sought to negotiate and navigate her ethnic and sexual identity, her challenges with depression and auditory dyslexia, and the acceptance of her physique. This exhibition considers the story of the artist who for most of her life struggled to communicate with words, yet ironically emerged as a powerful voice for numerous and diverse marginalized groups.

  • Best of Yollo

    National Museum of Mexican Art
    1852 W. 19th street
    Chicago, IL 60608
    Best of Yollo

    Yollocalli Arts Reach is hosting its annual teen curated exhibition, "Best of Yollo." Visit the courtyard gallery of the National Museum of Mexican Art to see teen selected works from the Yollocalli programs.

  • Kovler Family Climbing Schooner

    Chicago Children’s Museum
    700 East Grand Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611-3428
    Kovler Family Climbing Schooner

    Scale three stories of ship-shape rigging—from cargo hold to crow's nest. Find real tropical fish at the ocean's bottom, and then reach for the rafters on a race to the ship's top. Friendly staff can lend a hand to new climbers.

  • Into the Void: Prints of Lee Bontecou

    Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    Into the Void: Prints of Lee Bontecou

    The images of Lee Bontecou (American, born 1931) are unmistakably hers: black voids, cosmic orbs, floating serrated teeth, mutant flowers, and strange, hybrid forms. They reflect a post–World War II angst and existential fear brought on by the arms race and nuclear threat, coupled with awe at a technology capable of space travel. While best known for her wall reliefs that bridge the divide between painting and sculpture, Bontecou produced a series of important prints between 1962 and 1982 at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), a workshop founded by Tatyana Grosman in West Islip, New York, in 1957. This exhibition is the first show devoted to Bontecou’s prints since 1975 and is drawn from the Art Institute’s complete edition and significant archive of her ULAE production.

  • Abyss: Rocío Caballero

    National Museum of Mexican Art
    1852 W. 19th street
    Chicago, IL 60608
    Abyss: Rocío Caballero

    In Abyss, Rocío Caballero (b. Azcapotzalco, México D.F. 1964) brings us face to face with a world alive with allegories and symbolism, wherein the artist makes use of figuration as a kind of personal language. Abyss, mirrors a dreamlike realm that transports us from the voluptuous sensuality of a female body that lies within water and accompanied by seafaring creatures, to the image of a woman transgressed. Meanwhile, the representation of the man is lethal and cruel, full of power he celebrates, while he coaches and plays a treacherous game. In her artwork, Caballero places her characters at the edge of a psychological and moral abyss where many of them overstep, fall and disparagingly continue to exist in an aimless and impassive universe.

  • Chicago Stories: Carlos Javier Ortiz and David Schalliol

    Museum of Contemporary Photography
    600 S Michigan Ave
    Chicago, IL 60605
    Chicago Stories: Carlos Javier Ortiz and David Schalliol

    Carlos Javier Ortiz (American, b. 1977) considers contemporary black life in comparison to the ideals of the Great Migration, which took place from 1916 to 1970 when six million African Americans left the South to find new opportunities in the North. Illustrating socioeconomic patterns that pave the way for a cycle of poverty and violence, his two projects, A Thousand Midnights (2016) and We All We Got (2014), document youth and families in Chicago from multiple perspectives over the course of many years. Ortiz focuses on those affected by gun violence, casting light on the larger forces fostering recurring tragedies in our city.

  • Lincoln’s Chicago

    Chicago History Museum
    1601 North Clark Street
    Chicago, IL 60614-6038
    Lincoln’s Chicago

    Lincoln was a frequent visitor to Chicago, which became his second home and political headquarters during his rise to prominence. This gallery features portraits of Lincoln’s contemporaries with lithograph views of Chicago created in the 1860s. The pairings provide a glimpse of the city that Lincoln knew—a dynamic young metropolis on the verge of greatness.

  • Ornamental Traditions: Jewelry from Bukhara

    Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    Ornamental Traditions: Jewelry from Bukhara

    Located in present-day Uzbekistan, the Emirate of Bukhara (1785–1920) was an important center of Islamic religion and scholarship and a major oasis on the famous Silk Road that traversed Central Asia from ancient times. As such, it was highly diverse—home to the majority Uzbek and Tajik populations in addition to communities of Arabs, Jews, and Turkmens who played a role in the emirate’s vibrant trade. Over time, Bukhara developed its own iconic style of jewelry characterized by intricate blue enamelwork that mirrored the region’s blue-glazed, tiled architecture. Russia’s colonization of Bukhara in 1866 brought with it more advanced enameling techniques, allowing for increasingly complex designs.

    In almost every context, the jewelry of Bukhara embodied great meaning and was rarely considered mere decoration. Large, ornate suits of jewelry were thought to protect the wearer from evil spirits, particularly during important events like weddings, and were the strongest assertion of a person’s power and wealth. Throughout Uzbekistan, such objects were designed to be worn as sets rather than exist as singular pieces.

  • WaterWays

    Chicago Children’s Museum
    700 East Grand Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611-3428
    WaterWays

    Make a splash in this flowing, squirting, pumping playground. Feel the power of water as you control the flow with pulleys, wheels, and pipes. Navigate your boat through the locks and dams of the mighty river. You may get wet as you immerse yourself in the sensory-rich world of water—hand dryers are available nearby!

  • The Fifth Star Challenge

    Chicago History Museum
    1601 North Clark Street
    Chicago, IL 60614-6038
    The Fifth Star Challenge

    If Chicago’s flag had a fifth star, what would it represent? Discover highlights from the city’s past, cast your vote, and see how your choice stacks up. While in the gallery, be sure to look beneath your feet and explore Chicagoland on our wall-to-wall floor map.

  • Grainger Hall of Gems

    Field Museum
    1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
    Chicago, IL 60605
    Grainger Hall of Gems

    Celebrate precious stones in every form.

    A visitor favorite since the museum opened in 1921, the Grainger Hall of Gems has a history older than the Field Museum itself. 

    At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Tiffany & Co.’s gem collection captivated viewers from all walks of life. When the exposition closed, World’s Fair President Harlow Higinbotham purchased the entire collection and donated it to Chicago’s then-new natural history museum.

    Today, the Grainger Hall of Gems is more stunning than ever. Our collection has grown to include more than 600 gemstones and 150 pieces of antique and contemporary jewelry. (Several pieces were donated by Chicago philanthropist Thuy Ngo Nguyen, who visited often and would offer her stunning baubles to the museum on the spot!)

    Each display features a gem in its three stages of transformation: raw crystal, cut and polished stone, and mounted jewel in a finished ring, brooch, or necklace.

  • The Children

    Steppenwolf Theatre Company
    1650 N. Halsted St.
    Chicago, IL 60614
    The Children

    On a summer evening in an isolated seaside cottage in the East of England, a pair of retired nuclear scientists are startled by a visit from a former colleague. As some crackers and wine are trotted out, so are various old jealousies, leading to the true reason for Rose's sudden reappearance: the revelation of a chilling and dangerous plan. Following sold out runs in London and New York, Steppenwolf is proud to present this brave, humane and beautifully written play that confronts the responsibility each generation must face for the way it leaves the world.

  • Afterglow

    Pride Arts Center - The Buena
    4147 N. Broadway
    Chicago, IL 60613
    Afterglow

    Josh and Alex are a married couple in an open relationship. The two invite another man, Darius, to share their bed one night. When a new intimate connection begins to form, all three men must come to terms with their individual definitions of love, loyalty, and trust as futures are questioned, relationships are shaken, and commitments are challenged.

  • Small World

    The Den Theatre
    1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60622
    Small World

    The New Colony presents the world premiere of SMALL WORLD. It’s the end of the world…maybe? There’s no way to confirm for three cast members trapped inside their attraction at the happiest place on earth. The music won’t stop, there’s a body in the moat and one of the group is impaled under a smiling animatronic. Can they force their way off the ride? And what waits for them on the other side? It’s a world of hopes, it’s a world of fears. It’s a small world, after all.

  • Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs

    James M. Nederlander Theatre
    24 W. Randolph St.
    Chicago, IL 60601
    Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs

    This is not just tap. Experience high voltage, rugged, raw talent in the tap dance phenomenon which has taken the world by storm.

    Dein Perry’s TAP DOGS returns to the stage with its trademark blend of live music and tap dance as you’ve never seen before. The New York Observer called it “positively electrifying.”

    Part theatre, part dance, part rock concert and part construction site, the show is crammed with high-energy dance, theatrical performance, and music performed by the cast and live musicians in this unstoppable spectacular. Whether in water, upside-down or jumping through scaffolding, the Tap Dogs have been performing to the beat of their own drum for over 20 years.

  • Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt: Still in Paradise

    Museum of Contemporary Art
    220 E. Chicago Ave
    Chicago, IL 60611
    Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt: Still in Paradise

    Still in Paradise by Yan Duyvendak and Omar Ghayatt—the prologue to Made in Paradise (2008)—was conceived in the swelling tide since 9/11 in which the Arab world as a whole has become suspect and, for many Westerners, neoliberal values are the only guarantee of a functioning society.

    Ghayatt, who is from Egypt and resides in Bern, envisioned his works with Duyvendak, who is from the Netherlands, to stage their encounters, their doubts, and their differences through a series of scenes that audiences vote for each night. Shared space, time, and dialogue gradually undo preconceived cultural and ideological notions that feed fear and negation.

    Still in Paradise is a show of the history of their project itself that reflects, in its own small way, history at large. Since the end of the Arab Spring, nations have degenerated into either stifling dictatorship or war and disintegration. Europe seems to answer only with fear and the erecting of both inner and outer barriers. Unlike its fragments, Still in Paradise’s finale cannot be voted for; it is imposed.

    Copresented with the Chicago Humanities Festival

  • Tight Ship @ Riverview Tavern

    Riverview Tavern
    1959 W. Roscoe St.
    Chicago, IL 60618
    Tight Ship @ Riverview Tavern

    Tight Ship Comedy is a professional independent showcase featuring the city's vast talent EVERY THURSDAY at Riverview Tavern (1958 W Roscoe St). Our first show is taking place 9/28 at 7:30pm, and you can purchase tickets online for $5, plus a small service fee. With each online ticket purchased, you’ll receive a FREE domestic beer when you arrive the night of the show.

  • Dream Freaks Fall From Space

    The Second City
    1616 N. Wells St.,
    Chicago, IL 60614
    Dream Freaks Fall From Space

    Dream Freaks Fall from Space holds a funhouse mirror up to the already bizarre times in which we’re living. The powerhouse cast delivers a show that’s surreal, musical, maniacal, and utterly entertaining all at the same time. You’ll fall for this other-worldly adventure that’s unlike any other show on the planet!

  • Babes with Blades Theatre Company Presents “Othello”

    The Factory Theater
    1623 W. Howard St.
    Chicago, IL 60626
    Babes with Blades Theatre Company Presents “Othello”

    In William Shakespeare’s Othello, Othello is a brilliant general with the support of the Venetian government and an army behind him. When he promotes Cassio over Iago, however, his military might not be able to protect him from madness and jealousy, as Iago schemes to utterly destroy him. As events spiral, prejudice, pride and paranoia all clash in one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies.

  • Bright Star

    Greenhouse Theater Center
    2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60614
    Bright Star

    The Broadway musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. . Inspired by a real event, BRIGHT STAR tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ‘40s. The story follows young writer Billy Cane, recently returned from World War II, and Alice Murphy, the editor who takes a chance on him. As Billy mines his childhood home for engaging stories, Alice sets out to explore the pain and mystery of her own small-town past. The overlapping secrets they uncover lead them a startling and heart-warming connection.

  • Pinocchio

    The Chopin Theatre upstairs theatre
    1543 W. Division
    Chicago, IL 60642
    Pinocchio

    The House brings to life this tall tale about telling the truth. Carved from an enchanted stump in a charred forest, toyshop owner Geppeto's small puppet child flourishes. The growing Pinocchio devours books and the complex worlds they reveal. He relishes musicals and the emotional ride they offer. And he longs to sink his adolescent teeth into real relationships and conversations beyond the walls of his storefront home. But his protective father keeps Pinocchio's wild branches trimmed back, and forbids venturing out. A method sure to inspire rebellion in this precocious, curious not-quite-real young man.

  • Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection

    Smart Museum of Art
    The University of Chicago 5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60637
    Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection

    Solidary & Solitary tells the history of art by African-American artists, with a particular emphasis on abstraction, from the 1940s to the present moment. That story is a complicated one, woven from the threads of debates about how to represent blackness, social struggle and change, and global migrations and diasporas.

  • Facing Freedom in America

    Chicago History Museum
    1601 North Clark Street
    Chicago, IL 60614-6038
    Facing Freedom in America

    What does freedom mean? To whom should freedom be extended? How are denied rights gained?

    Based on the central idea that the history of the United States has been shaped by conflicts over what it means to be free, this new exhibition uses images, artifacts, and interactive elements to explore familiar and not-so-familiar stories from the nation’s past. From women’s suffrage and the formation of labor unions, to Japanese internment, to a local school boycott, the exhibition highlights some of the ways Americans have struggled over the true meaning of freedom.

  • Hannah and Martin

    Theater Wit
    1229 W. Belmont Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60657
    Hannah and Martin

    Shattered Globe Theatre presents Kate Fodor’s drama HANNAH AND MARTIN, directed by Louis Contey.

    Based on the tumultuous love affair between German-Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt and her mentor, the celebrated German philosopher Martin Heidegger, this emotionally intense drama focuses on the crisis that erupts when Arendt discovers that her former teacher is using his brilliance and fame to help further the goals of the Nazi Party. HANNAH AND MARTIN is a provocative exploration into the activity of thinking and its relation to passion, love, and politics

  • A Chorus Line

    Ruth Page Center for the Arts
    1016 N. Dearborn St.,
    Chicago, IL 60610
    A Chorus Line

    Winner of nine Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, this landmark work has electrified audiences around the world. In an empty theatre, on a bare stage, casting for a new Broadway musical is almost complete. For seventeen dancers, this audition is the chance of a lifetime. It’s what they’ve worked for with every drop of sweat and every hour or training, putting their lives on the line for the opportunity to do what they’ve always dreamed of doing: to dance. This singular sensation features an incomparable score including “What I Did for Love,” “One” and “Dance Ten, Looks Three.”