Northwestern coordinates free admission to Art Institute of Chicago


Source: Wally Gobetz

Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is now free for Northwestern undergraduate students. The new collaboration was funded by a donation from Shirley Welsh Ryan (Weinberg ’61).

Joseph Diebold, Campus Editor

Entry to the nation’s second-largest art museum got a little cheaper for Northwestern undergraduate students this year, thanks to a gift from one of the University’s most generous donors.

Admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is now free for undergraduate students with a WildCARD. The gift was paid for by an undisclosed donation from Shirley Welsh Ryan (Weinberg ’61), the wife of Chicago businessman Pat Ryan (Kellogg ’59) and a member of the museum’s board of trustees. Previously, students had to pay the $14 discounted admission rate for Illinois student-residents.

Admission to special exhibitions, lectures and other museum events is included in the initiative. Lindsey Pfleger, a graduate assistant with the Center for Student Involvement, said the provost’s office approached CSI after hearing that Welsh Ryan was interested in funding the initiative. The collaboration will include quarterly “university nights” at the museum, which will be run by CSI.

Pfleger said the new perk fits in with broader University efforts to unite NU students with the city. CSI is also working on offering discounted tickets for students to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera, with Pfleger calling the combined efforts “hopefully a new arts initiative” for the center.

“It’s another of the initiatives to really connect Northwestern and downtown Chicago,” she said.

Pfleger said because many students choose NU for its access to a major city, CSI works to open up opportunities to access all Chicago has to offer.

“We have access to this great city and that’s why the students come to Northwestern sometimes over Cornell or another option, because they do have such (a) great metropolitan area to explore,” she said.

TripAdvisor readers voted the Art Institute the best museum in the country and the third best in the world. The museum is topped in size nationally only by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Ryans are among NU’s most prolific donors, providing the namesake for Ryan Field, Welsh-Ryan Arena and Ryan Fieldhouse, currently under construction. They have also contributed to the construction of NU’s Nanotechnology Center and the Feinberg School of Medicine. Pat Ryan also sits on NU’s Board of Trustees.

Other highlights of previous collaborations between NU and the Art Institute include the establishment of the Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts and a class taught this summer at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences on transforming data into art.

Pfleger said one of the challenges of adding a new program is reaching students who may not know about the initiative.

“We’re still working on getting the word out,” she said. “You’ll see a lot more marketing and advertising coming. We’re pretty excited about the collaboration and all the feedback I’ve seen from the students who have heard about it. They’re pretty excited too.”

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