Chicago Cultural Center

78 East Washington Street
312-744-3316

The landmark building known as the Chicago Cultural Center serves as the city's official reception venue where the Mayor has welcomed Presidents and royalty, diplomats and community leaders. This is the "People's Palace," where Chicago's diverse communities gather. This remarkable structure was completed in 1897 as the city's main library. Constructed to be "an enduring monument worthy of a great and public spirited city" -- in the words of the founding library board -- the "People's Palace" is a testament to the foresight of Chicago's turn of the (20th) century cultural leadership.

The nation's first free municipal cultural center, the Chicago Cultural Center is one of the city's ten most popular attractions and is considered one of the most comprehensive arts showcases in the United States. Each year, the Chicago Cultural Center features more than 1,000 programs and exhibitions covering a wide range of the performing, visual and literary arts. Programming is aimed at increasing public awareness of the arts, and school tours and learning guides are provided to enhance the public's appreciation of the landmark building and enjoyment of its diverse programs and exhibitions.

Programs feature classical, jazz, world, folk, pop, and vocal music concerts, new and classic plays and readings, modern dance performances, art discussions, film screenings, lectures, cultural celebrations, and participatory events for all ages. Regularly scheduled programs include weekday "LunchBreak" concerts and gallery talks, and weekly "Sunday Salon Series" afternoon concerts, among others. Regular building tours are scheduled at 1:15 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Groups are scheduled at other times by arrangement.

Exhibitions present a wide range of traditional and new media: painting, sculpture, photography, graphics, crafts, architecture, and design. A variety of contemporary, historical, and cultural offerings include international traveling exhibitions as well as one-person shows by local artists. Several major exhibitions are organized annually by staff of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs or guest curators. Related lectures, panel discussions, films, symposia, and gallery talks are frequently scheduled. Special programs and tours for students are presented.

The Chicago Cultural Center houses eight exhibition spaces, two concert halls, two theaters, a cabaret performing space, a dance studio, a senior center, a café, a shop, and a visitor information center.


Designed by the Boston firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, the building was dedicated in 1897 as the first permanent home of the Chicago Public Library. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 31, 1972, and was designated a Chicago Landmark on November 15, 1976. Its beaux-arts style was influenced by the buildings of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and its architecture features both Greek and Roman styles. The building's interior features rooms modeled on the Doge's Palace in Venice, the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and the Acropolis in Athens. The building is most notable for two spectacular stained-glass domes as well as lush ornamentation that includes rare marbles inlaid with sparkling mosaics and intricate, coffered ceilings.


Reviews

Zulhaj Choudhury

Rating:
Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018

I love this place. Our firm has held its holiday party here the past few years and it's always been a blast. The venue is very elegant, and the rooms are large. I've been here for an art gallery and it's always been a good time. It's right near Millennium Park, so if you're in the area and there's an event going on, definitely check it out.

John Wunderlich

Rating:
Friday, Dec. 8, 2017

Every Wednesday they have a free concert at the noon hour. It's called the Dame Myra Hess series. If you're in the Chicagoland area make sure in hit one of them. It is tremendous. Located in the Old Chicago downtown public library at Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street. The building is well worth the visit alone. Mini of the decorations we're done by LC Tiffany. They will give tours of the building also.

Sergey Dunaev

Rating:
Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017

Beautiful excibition space 🎨. The architecture is gorgeous. It is open for long hours, and free! It is amazing. Cultural Center was established at 1897. Inside the building has the grand staircase that lead to the Preston Bradley Hall. Tall windows and artwork are magnificent. The Tiffany ceiling is gorgeous! 38 feet round dome is the largest Tiffany glass dome in the world.

Tiffany Peterson

Rating:
Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017

This is an excellent diamond in the rough across from Millennium Park. Oh, and It's Free! So if you have friends and/or family coming in from out of town, this is an excellent out of the way tourist spot. The Tile work and Tiffany dome (the largest in North America I believe) is eye catching and stunning. Being the old Chicago Library (1897) it still has the names of the old poets from history on the walls and makes a fantastic backdrop for pictures. It is also a great spot to get free booklets of what is happening in the city and surrounding areas. I usually drop by when they have been exhibiting art on the upper floors, it is usually international or eccentric work you won't see anywhere else. So I highly recommend checking it out when downtown Chicago.

Jill Flanagan

Rating:
Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018

the cultural center is an amazing building. unfortunately its not what it once was due to budget cuts by the heartless Emmanuel administration. but definitely worth checking out for its beautiful architecture which stands lonely of content and art


Upcoming Events at Chicago Cultural Center

Young People's Concert - Pangaea Jazz Quintet

Thursday, Feb 15, 2018 at 10:30am
Chicago Cultural Center
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Young People's Concert - South Shore Opera Quartet

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018 at 10:30am
Chicago Cultural Center
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Young People's Concert - Orchestra / CYSO

Thursday, Apr 19, 2018 at 10:30am
Chicago Cultural Center
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Young People's Concert - Drum Talk Ensemble

Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 10:30am
Chicago Cultural Center
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Young People's Concert - Kings of Soul

Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 10:30am
Chicago Cultural Center
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