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The Art Institute of Chicago was founded as both a museum and school for the fine arts in 1879, a critical era in the history of Chicago as civic energies were devoted to rebuilding the metropolis that had been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1871. Its first collections consisting primarily of plaster casts, the Art Institute found its permanent home in 1893, when it moved into a building, constructed jointly with the city of Chicago for the World's Columbian Exposition, at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. That building, its entry flanked by the two famous bronze lions, remains the "front door" of the museum even today. In keeping with the academic origins of the institution, a research library was constructed in 1901; eight major expansions for gallery and administrative space have followed, with the latest being the Modern Wing, which opened in 2009. The permanent collection has grown from plaster casts to nearly 300,000 works of art in fields ranging from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art. Together, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the museum of the Art Institute of Chicago are now internationally recognized as two of the leading fine-arts institutions in the United States.

Looking to get more involved? Broaden your mind and your social circle. Join the Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Evening Associates is a group of young professional Art Institute members, ages 21–40, who enjoy a full schedule of exciting programs and benefits including special events highlighting art that's newly on view, 50% off tickets to After Dark, the recurring late-night party in the Modern Wing featuring a major exhibition, discounted tickets to Night Heist, the Evening Associates Board's annual benefit, and other invitations to special art-related events around the city. 

For a higher level of engagement, The Sustaining Fellows is the premier annual giving society of the Art Institute. A tax-deductible gift of $2,500 or more provides critical, unrestricted philanthropy to the museum and brings you even closer to its world-renowned collection and curators.