Last month, we discussed a few art museums in the east of the U.S. that hold artistic masterpieces from far and wide. These next few museums located in the Midwest pack a lot of punch into the art displayed in their galleries and on exhibition. Read on to find out why these are some of the museums to visit in the United States.

Cleveland Museum of Art — Cleveland

Founded as a trust in 1913, many prominent industrialists and philanthropists of Cleveland worked on the Cleveland Museum of Art. They wanted to ensure people of all ages and generations to come could enjoy art, so the admission to this museum started out as free of charge. Today, to continue the mission of allowing everyone to see art, admission is still free. Opened in June of 1916, the Cleveland Museum of Art is the focal point of Cleveland’s Fine Arts Garden.

There are 15 separate departments for the art in the museum. Housed by the variety of art or by where the art is from, the museum has contemporary art and photography, Chinese art, prints, modern European art — just to name a few of the departments. The Cleveland Museum of Art is also home to the Ingalls Library, which is one of the largest art libraries in the U.S.  When visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art, there are many works to see in the museum’s permanent collection. One of Pablo Picasso’s pieces from his recognized Blue Period, “La Vie,” is a highlight there. American artist George Bellows’ realist oil paint “Stag at Sharkey’s” also calls the museum home. As there are numerous departments of art at this museum, it may take more than one trip to see it all!

Art Institute of Chicago — Chicago

Having been seen in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” it wouldn’t be fair to not include the Art Institute of Chicago in this list. Associated with the school of the same name, this museum had its beginnings as the Chicago Academy of Design. In 1866, a group of artists founded the Chicago Academy of Design, having the intent to run a free school of art with its own art gallery. Over the decades, the name was changed (and the museum was relocated thanks to the Great Chicago Fire). During the 1980s, the museum saw a major expansion of its art and renovation of the building, creating what the building is today.

With more than 260,000 works of art, the Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest museum in the U.S., only being behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Impressionist and post-impressionist art rule the galleries at this museum, but there are also collections of Japanese art and an African American art collection. When visiting this expansive museum, one piece of work that is a must-see was featured in “Ferris Bueller:” Georges Seurat’s pointillism piece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte.” The Art Institute also is home to various artworks by Monet, Picasso, Cézanne, Degas and van Gogh. But, if you’re looking for something that is specifically done by a U.S. artist, look for Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” (If you don’t recognize this famous painting of a farmer and his daughter, you’ve probably seen it parodied in some way.)

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art — Kansas City, Missouri

Heading a bit farther west, a fantastic museum to visit is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Upon the death of William Nelson, publisher of the Kansas City Star, and also after the deaths of his wife and daughter, Nelson requested the money from his estate go toward purchasing artwork for public enjoyment. And that is exactly what was done. Originally called the Nelson Art Gallery, this museum’s classic Beaux-Arts architectural style was actually modeled after the Cleveland Museum of Art. Officially opened in December 1933, the museum was initially two separate galleries (the Nelson Art Gallery and the Atkins Museum of Fine Arts). It wasn’t until 1983 when the museums became one and adopted its current moniker.

Free admission to this museum makes it a popular attraction to tourists and locals alike. There are extensive collections of paintings, photographs and sculptures that all call this museum home. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is best known for its collection of Asian art, with works included that are of Imperial China. There are over 33,500 works of art at the museum done by artists including El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt and George Bellows, just to name a few. When you visit, be sure to see Caravaggio’s “John the Baptist” in the European painting collection. When outside in the sculpture park, take a look at the four-part sculpture “Shuttlecocks,” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, which is just what it sounds like—a set of oversized badminton shuttlecocks.

While these are just three of the countless museums that grace the Midwest of the U.S., there is plenty to see at each of these museums to hold your attention for hours on end. In the next piece about U.S. art museums, museums along the West Coast will be the highlight. Because, with 50 states and numerous cities, there are so many assortments of art to see across this country!

Have you visited the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago or the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art? Think we should’ve included another museum in this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Author: NareshS