Chicago is a city full of history, art and culture – and you’ll find plenty of it all in our renowned cultural institutions. While the city’s museums continue to responsibly reopen, they will unveil a list of breathtaking exhibitions throughout the year. Here’s our list of some of the museum exhibits around Chicago that are worth a visit in 2021. And explore even more upcoming exhibits with our guide to museums open in Chicago.

Immersive Van Gogh exhibition at the Germania Club

Open now until November 28, 2021
With 500,000 cubic feet of projections, immerse yourself in Van Gogh’s most emblematic paintings. Stroll through the famous landscapes and wall-projected settings, set to an original score, at the Lighthouse Artspace Chicago, a new location in Chicago’s newly renovated Germania Club Building.
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Obama portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago

Open from June 18 to August 15, 2021
The Art Institute of Chicago is the first stop on a visit to the Obama portraits; a suitable choice for this iconic couple with a strong connection to the city. See Kehinde Wiley’s painting of former President Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s depiction of Michelle Obama, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC
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Banksy’s art

Image of the Flag Wall room at The Art of Banksy exhibition in Toronto.  Courtesy of The Art of Banksy.
Image of the Flag Wall room at The Art of Banksy exhibition in Toronto. Courtesy of The Art of Banksy.

Opening July 1, 2021
Billed as the largest Banksy exhibit ever assembled, Banksy’s art will present more than 80 original and authenticated works of one of the most mysterious artists in the world. The exhibits include prints, canvases, screen prints, sculptures and more that span Banksy’s decades of career. Tickets are on sale now, the location of the West Loop will be announced soon.
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City on fire at the Chicago History Museum

Opening in October 2021
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, and the Chicago History Museum marks the occasion with a new exhibit. City on fire documents the devastating event through more than 100 artifacts that tell the story of the fire and its aftermath, including Chicago’s resilience, rise and rebirth.
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Marvel: the universe of superheroes at the Science and Industry Museum

Open now until October 24, 2021
Celebrate 80 years of Marvel by visiting this interactive exhibit of over 300 costumes, props, sculptures, artifacts and exhibits ranging from original comics to blockbuster movies. Discover the stories of some of your favorite superheroes, such as Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider Man and more, and how they took their place in the cultural landscape.
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Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Jane Goodall at the museum of fields

Jane Goodall in the Jungle
Photo by Michael Nichols for National Geographic

Opening on May 21, 2021
Immerse yourself in the fascinating life and career of Dr Jane Goodall, known for her groundbreaking work with primates. The exhibit showcases 60 years of Dr. Goodall’s life and legacy through unique artifacts and interactive experiences. Step into a recreation of her country tent, gaze at a national park, and meet Jane herself through augmented reality.
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Frida Kahlo: Timeless at the McAninch Arts Center

Frida Kahlo Self Portrait with Small Monkey 1945 Oilon Masonite Collection Museo Dolores Olmedo Xochimilco Mexico © 2018 Bancode México

Open from June 5 to September 6, 2021
Venture out of town to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn for this immersive exhibit on the life and work of Frida Kahlo. The comprehensive exhibit includes original works and historical artifacts, including Kahlo’s clothing, photographic images from his life, and a Kahlo-inspired garden.
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Yannis Tsarouchis: Dancing in real life to Wrightwood 659

Open from May 7 to July 31, 2021
Wrightwood 659, a stunning museum space nestled in Lincoln Park, will host America’s first exhibition dedicated to the work of Yannis Tsarouchis. The prolific artist is widely regarded as one of the greatest Greek painters of the 20th century. This exhibition will present 200 works that cover the entire careers of artists.
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Chicago Comics: The Sixties To The Present at the contemporary art museum

Lynda Barry, 100 Demons: Dancing, 2000-02.  Courtesy of Adam Baumgold Fine Art
Lynda Barry, 100 Demons: Dancing, 2000-02. Courtesy of Adam Baumgold Fine Art

Open from June 19 to October 3, 2021
Explore under-recognized artists of color in this historic exhibit, retracing the evolution of comics in Chicago over the past 60 years. From newspapers to graphic novels to political activism, this exhibition features previously unseen pieces that offer a deeper history of comics.
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Cecil McDonald Jr .: Cut and Beats at the Hyde Park Art Center

Syncope, 1997, Cecil McDonald Jr., Photography, Editing, 40 x 30
Syncope, 1997, Cecil McDonald Jr., Photography, Editing, 40 x 30

Open until June 12, 2021
This special exhibition features the work of a local artist Cecil mcdonald jr. His unique work subverts racist representations of black artists by transforming historical images with photo collages, videos and performances combined with original photographs.
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Mandela: Fight for freedom at the Illinois Holocaust Museum

Open from February 20 to September 12, 2021
This special exhibition traces both the life of a human rights defender Nelson Mandelaand the history of apartheid in South Africa. The gallery features spectacular replicas and original artifacts, including a multimedia theater, a ballot box from the country’s first democratic elections, and an exact recreation of the prison cell where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.
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