Art Institute of Chicago: After Dark

Chicago has many great museums to check out any time of the day, but if you want to really enjoy the museums and take in some great food, music, and people watching while you are there, then you should check out the various after hours events happening all over Chicago. A few weeks ago, I attended an After Dark event at the Art Institute of Chicago. Being that I am a big fan of the museum and my best friend happens to be on the Young Associates Board at the Art Institute, I often take part in many of the activities this museum has to offer. This specific After Dark event though was my favorite so far, because it featured in exhibit on Studio Gang Architects. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with Jeanne Gang on some past projects at my previous job, and I was ecstatic to hear the museum was featuring an exhibit on her. I was even more excited when I saw a model of one of the projects I worked on with her in the museum! (Did I mention my old company also designed the Modern Wing at the Art Institute?) Enough about me. Jeanne is a successful female architect and graduated from my alma mater, so as you can imagine, I’ve looked up to her throughout my education and career. For those of you who are unfamiliar with her work and want to see some really cool modern architecture, drive down Lake Shore Drive and take a look at one of her most famous pieces of work, Aqua.

Each After Dark event features a different exhibit and gives you access in to the museum after hours with special tours of their featured exhibit. So, even though you may have missed the Studio Gang After Dark event, check out the next one. General admission is typically $25, and that includes complimentary appetizers, live music, admission in to the museum, and cash bar. There is typically a decent amount of food that is delicious, so don’t come too full like we did. They often have live performance art that brings a nice element of surprise throughout your night. You never know what fun things they will do! Wondering what to wear there? Well, let’s just say, anything goes. It’s an art museum. People typically get pretty dressed up (sport coat, but no tuxedos) and often use this as an opportunity to really express their own style. I wore a sweater dress and boots since I knew I’d be standing a lot, but I tried to get creative by wearing zig zag patterned tights and jewelry by my favorite Chicago designer.

Want to check out a similar event at a different museum? Check out the First Fridays events at the MCA. Tickets range between $10-$18 depending on when you buy and/or if you are a member, but it has a similar set up as the After Dark Event at the Art Institute. You’ll find all types of people at both events, so it’s great for mingling or people watching.

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Models of Studio Gang Architect’s Projects in the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago

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Performance Art at the After Dark Event at the Art Institute of Chicago

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Sweater Dress: Laundry by Shelli Segal on Zappos (old, but can now find on ebay); Boots: Steve Madden (old); Belt: Mint Julep Boutique on Southport; Earrings and Necklace: K-Amato Sample Sale (recent); Zig Zag Tights

Dress Code: Smart Casual / Business Casual

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New Year and New Blog : Tea at the Drake

ChiCityCool is kicking off 2013 with a blog that answers everyone’s two favorite questions: Where should I go in Chicago, and what should I wear there?

ChiCityCool decided to start of the New Year by finally having Afternoon Tea at the Drake. For $38 a person + tax/tip, you get to drink delicious tea and eat an assortment of small sandwiches and desserts in one of the finest and most historic hotels in Chicago.

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I couldn’t believe that after living in the Chicagoland area most of my life, I had never checked this tradition out. (I mean, Princess Diana went there when she visited, so it must be pretty cool then, right?) I went in thinking I would need to grab lunch afterwards, but much to my surprise, we left full and energized. (They bring out extra plates of sandwiches on request.) After sitting there listing to the harpist play and enjoying great conversations with friends, I looked around and realized the crowd seemed to be mostly families and tourists. That being said, even if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea because you aren’t a tourist, check it out some time anyways. It’s a perfect place to bring your relatives when they are in town or to catch up with old friends. I probably won’t be going back again soon due to the hefty price tag, but I am glad I finally participated in this historic tradition. While Afternoon Tea takes place 365 days a year, it felt even more special during the holiday season. I really enjoyed my afternoon at the Drake Hotel, and the tree in the lobby was beautiful.

Dress Code: Classy / Smart Casual

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Dress: The Limited; Blazer: Banana Republic, old (Similar); Necklace: Baublebar (Same necklace in different color); Shoes: Ann Taylor Loft, old; Clutch: M2 Boutique on Southport; Earrings: Small boutique in Chicago; Bracelet: Sample Sale in NYC

ChiCityCool hopes you had a happy, safe, and fabulous New Years Eve! No matter where you celebrated at midnight, sequin attire was totally acceptable. Check out my NYE outfit!

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Blouse: T.J. Maxx; Sequin Aztec Skirt: Express (Same skirt in different color); Shoes: Old, Clutch: Nine West, old (Similar, Similar); Earrings: K-Amato (sample sale)