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Planning Educational Student Trips to Chicago: Art Tours

Art Museum Tours: The Perfect Chicago Student Trip

In the windy city of Chicago students and teachers have the opportunity to plan educational field trips to a wide variety of art museums and exhibitions. Whether you plan a senior class trip or a typical high school tour, art tours in Chicago offer a number of artistic perspectives, styles, mediums, collections and educational programs. Exposure to various art mediums and artists teaches, encourages and inspires students of all ages.

Student Art Tours You’ll Want to Include on Your Chicago Field Trip

If you are currently in the process of planning a student trip to Chicago here are some art tours you won’t want to miss.

Student Trips at the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is more than a school. It is also home to one of the most breathtaking museums in the Chicago area. The Art Institute displays thousands of paintings, sculptures and other artworks from around the world. Collections include African, American, Ancient, Architectural, Medieval, Renaissance, Asian, Contemporary, European, American Indian and Modern art. Students can see the work of famous artists such as John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Diego Rivera Ivan Albright, Picasso and Matisse.

Currently the Art Institute is completing construction of The Modern Wing, scheduled to open to the public on May 16, 2009. The Modern Wing will increase gallery space and be home to the Ryan Education Center. In March and May student tours will not be available.

Educational Tours of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) provides guided, self-guided and Curator tours to student groups, families and individuals. The MCA is one of the country’s largest facilities devoted to modern art. Student tours can view contemporary visual art mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography, video, film, and performance. The MCA collection features artists from 1945 until the present day. Surrealist, minimalist and conceptual artists are often featured. Student trips to the MCA can also include interactive Creation and Design Labs.

Art-Oriented Field Trips to the University of Chicago
As the future home of the Reva and David Logan Center for Creative and Performing Arts, the University of Chicago deems the arts as an integral part of academia. The Center, scheduled to open in 2011 will house theatre and performance, music, and cinema and media studies.

The Center will have classrooms, individual studios, exhibition space for the visual arts, a black-box theater, music practice rooms, a film vault, a lecture/film screening hall, and computer editing labs.

On the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus student tour groups also have access to the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, home to more than 10,000 objects, spanning five millennia of Western and Eastern civilization. The Smart Museum of Art is nationally recognized for its permanent collection, special exhibits, research, outreach and educational programs. In February and March of 2009 construction upgrades to the Smart Museum of Art will be completed. Student tours will not have access to all galleries during this time.

Educational Field Trips to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio

Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked at his now famous home and studio from 1889 to 1909. Wright’s home became his experimental, architectural laboratory. Here Wright and his colleagues created a new American architecture: the Prairie style. One hundred and twenty-five buildings were designed and constructed. Each spring individual, group and student trips can be planned during the annual Housewalk, during which visitors are able to view the interiors of multiple Wright designed homes. Educational programs are available to help visitors experience architecture first hand and learn more about historic preservation.

A One-of-a-Kind Student Trip: The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum
The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum (NVVAM) is unlike any other Chicago field trip destination. NVVAM displays over 1500 artworks created by artists to chronicle experiences in the Vietnam War. Exhibits are sometimes interactive and always meant to provoke dialogue about the realities of war. The “Things They Carried” exhibit allows children to wear the uniforms, boots and backpacks of Vietnam soldiers.

Art therapy, for many veterans, has been a healthy way to process and express painful memories and feelings. NVVAM is dedicated to helping veterans from all wars share their perspectives with the public. Currently the NVVAM is now showing art by Iraq veterans. Work by a local University of Illinois art student, Aaron Hughes, is now being shown. Hughes served in Iraq for 18 months.

Educational Student Tours of Chicago’s Museum of Mexican Art

Educational field trips to The National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) feature curator Talks and guides as well as children’s and adult art classes. The Museum preserves Mexican culture and educates the public about the Mexican visual and performing arts. As the largest Latino arts institution in the United States, the NMMA is actively involved in community based art programs, cultural equity issues and Latino groups throughout the City of Chicago.

As anyone planning a student trip to Chicago can see, art is a great way to focus the learning experience. Take one or several of these art destinations and add them to an itinerary for any student tour of the Chicago area.

Touring Chicago With Student Travel Groups

Chicago, Illinois is the third largest city in the United States. It is also a city that is culturally rich and diverse. With its varied architecture, multitude of museums, culinary delights, and its own style of music, Chicago is a smart and fun destination for students groups of all ages and interests.

The Shedd Aquarium
Science and nature students will have fun at the Shedd Aquarium as they explore the 90 unique habitats in the barrel-vaulted galleries of the Waters of the World exhibit. Hundreds of species of fishes, otters, lizards, frogs, turtles and other marine animals are housed in natural habitats that reveal their world above and below the waterline making it a great introduction and overview of life in the waters of the Earth.

The Shedd’s Wild Reef exhibit consists of 20 different habitats and features 500 species, including two dozen sharks, in the largest public display of live coral in the Midwest. The Wild Reef is a living illustration of the importance, diversity and frailty of reefs and is a great learning tool for students of biology, marine biology, and ecology.

The Shedd Aquarium’s other exhibits include Amazon Rising, Caribbean Reef, Oceanarium, and a variety of changing exhibits. And to increase the level of fun and learning, the Shedd Aquarium offers a variety of “Ten Fun Finds” on their website, www.sheddaquarium.org.

See “Sue” at The Field Museum
The Field Museum of Natural History is a must-see stop for any educational travel group. This museum was founded to house the biological and anthropological collections that were assembled for the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and it is still one of the most prestigious natural history museums in the world.

Students visiting the Field Museum will be able to come face-to face with the largest most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil in the world, Sue. And if dinosaurs get your students excited, check out the Field’s Evolving Planet exhibit where visitors can journey through 4 billion years of life on Earth. This Exhibit is packed with unique fossils, large and small, animated videos, interactive displays, dioramas, and more dinosaurs than you can count.

Because the Field Museum offers so many different exhibits and learning opportunities, it is suggested that teachers check out the resources for them on the website, www.fieldmuseum.org, to help plan and organize their visit with a student group.

Hands-On at the Museum of Science and Industry
On the more human side of history, the Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world. It houses more than 35,000 artifacts and close to 14 acres of hands-on exhibits that will spark a student travel group’s creativity and interest in scientific inquiry. ROTC and JROTC students will enjoy the chance to see the only German U-boat in the country and even go on board it. And after a day of walking, everyone can sit back and enjoy a scientific adventure in the Omnimax Theatre, a five-story wrap-around theatre.

Lincoln Park Zoo – A Living Oasis
The Lincoln Park Zoo, just north of Chicago, is a natural oasis for animal lovers. It is a green world of wildlife in the shadow of skyscrapers where lion’s roar and gorillas climb trees. The Lincoln Park Zoo is a living, breathing classroom, allowing students to learn about today’s natural world in juxtaposition to the world’s fossils they learned about at the Field Museum. The zoo is open 365 days of the year and is always free. The website, www.lpzoo.org offers animal fact sheets and planners for field trips and a perfect afternoon at the zoo with your students.

Entertainment for Student Travel Groups in Chicago

Student travel groups can round out their visit to Chicago with visits to the Navy Pier. This Midwest version of Coney Island, Water Tower Place, features an eight level atrium and over a hundred stores. Do not forget to put high rises on the student travel itinerary. Sears Tower Skydeck or the John Hancock Observatory both offer sweeping views of the Chicago skyline.

Students Travel Groups: Well Fed Chicago Style
When everyone gets hungry, there are marvelous restaurants across the city. For some authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza, you may want to dine at Gino’s East Pizza. And for great food and fun times, you may want to take your student group to the Hard Rock Café or the Rainforest Café.

Educational Travel…and All That Jazz
As you go from place to place, your students will marvel at the wealth of architecture, the soaring skyscrapers, and an enormous untitled sculpture by Picasso; budding musicians will delight to hear some real Chicago jazz; and everyone will enjoy the view of Lake Michigan and two great rivers. All in all a three or four day trip to the Windy City is rich in educational opportunities and experiences for any student group. Because Chicago is such a large city with many sights worth seeing, it’s best to start planning your trip with some research and the help of an educational travel professional.

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