Arts and Culture: Art Museums

Art is as old as human culture. Making, or craft, is one of the characteristic human activities, and art is its highest form. It gives visible and tangible form to what is true about the world and the human condition. Art means something. It invites us into contemplation, into an encounter with what we may find praiseworthy and moving, entertaining and pleasing, or perhaps threatening and discomfiting. An encounter with a great work of art leaves no attentive viewer unchanged. In our time, a museum is often the primary setting in which this encounter takes place, though this was not always so. However that may be, here are three places in the vicinity of Notre Dame where you can take a few hours to enjoy this aspect of human craft and culture.

Snite Museum of Art

The Snite is Notre Dame’s own on-campus museum of fine art. Open every day of the week, the museum offers free admission to all comers. The collection is impressive, its particular strengths including a collection of Rembrandt etchings, 19th-century European artwork, Mesoamerican and Native American art, and traditional objects from modern African groups. This is only the beginning of the collection, however, which also comprises numerous sculptures, decorative artifacts, photographs, and pieces of modern art. The Snite also welcomes families and offers fun museum guide packs for children ages 4 and up. This is a great way to spend one of the (many) cloudy days to come this winter. Check the museum website for current exhibits and upcoming events.

South Bend Museum of Art

The SBMA is located in downtown South Bend, inside the Century Center on MLK Blvd. Admission is free, though a donation of a few dollars is recommended. The museum has a number of pieces from local, regional, and nationally-recognized artists, mainly from the 19th-century onward. The Museum also runs numerous classes and workshops for adults and for children of all ages, including painting, drawing, ceramics, and fiber arts, as well as drop-in drawing sessions and open studios. For graduate students interested in taking classes as a group, these are a great candidate for utilizing a Grad Life GO Grant!

Art Institute of Chicago

If you are taking a trip to Chicago, the city’s Art Institute is well worth visiting. With a massive collection of artwork and artifacts of all sorts and provenances, the Art Institute can easily fill up a visit of several hours—or several days! Children ages 13 and under get in for free and students are eligible for discounted tickets. If you are planning on visiting multiple museums in the city over the course of a few days, you might also consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS, by far the most cost-effective way to see the main sights in Chicago. See my post over the summer on visiting Chicago for more details.