Northwestern Night kicks off Art Institute partnership


Jordan Harrison/The Daily Northwestern

Guests at the Art Institute of Chicago observe Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” The museum opened its doors Thursday to Northwestern students, faculty, alumni and friends to kick off its partnership with the University.

Jordan Harrison, Reporter

About 250 Northwestern students, faculty and alumni experienced a night at the museum Thursday at the inaugural “Northwestern Night” at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president of student engagement, said out of all the Chicago-area universities that have Art Institute partnerships, NU is “topping the list in terms of opening night attendance.”

The event kicked off a new partnership established last quarter with funding from Shirley Welsh Ryan, a Northwestern alumna and member of the Art Institute’s board of trustees.  NU undergraduate students now receive free admission to the Art Institute during regular museum hours and to all special exhibits.

“It’s a very cool place,” Weinberg freshman Sara Boyle said. “It’s gigantic. I got lost in the gift shop once.”

Though the museum is only free for undergraduates during regular hours, NU faculty, graduate students and alumni also skipped the ticket line Thursday night for the event, which lasted from 6 to 8 p.m.

Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, said the partnership is one of the best recent connections the University has made in the city.

“One of the things that we really are trying to do for our students in particular is to make sure that they experience not only Evanston but also Chicago,” she said.

Staff from the Art Institute and the Block Museum of Art showed guests around the museum.

The Art Institute, not just NU, will benefit from the partnership, said Martha Tedeschi, deputy director of the Art Institute.

“Northwestern is not the only school in this program,” Tedeschi said. “I think we really believe that the undergraduate population are the museum visitors of the future, and we want to make sure that you feel invited and welcomed into the museum as students. What we hope is that you’ll become lifelong museumgoers.” 

Special exhibitions at the museum, the second largest in the country, included an exhibit called “Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine” and a photography exhibit by contemporary artist Christopher Williams called “The Production Line of Happiness.” 

“I really just enjoy their institute,” said Joshua Hills, who graduated in 2012 from The Graduate School. “Anything really French and impressionistic or surreal is pretty much what I go toward.” 

McCormick sophomore Akshat Thirani said the Art Institute tours were informative. He also plans to take advantage of free admission to the museum.

“I actually was a member—I paid for the membership a year ago,” Thirani said. “It’s nice now that I don’t have to get it again.”

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