By Rachel Azark

Chicago Cultural Center

78 E. Washington St.,

Chicago, IL 60602
Admission: FREE

The Chicago Cultural Center seems to be the little unknown gem in the city that is constantly upstaged by the world-renowned museums and Millennium Park across the street. But hidden within its walls are some amazing things that make it the stunning Chicago landmark that it is.




The center was completed in 1897 as Chicago’s first public library. Top architects and craftsmen designed the building using rare imported marble, polished brass, fine hardwoods, and mosaics of Favrile glass and mother-of-pearl and colored stone so that Chicago could stand out as a sophisticated metropolis. The building is home to the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome, which was restored in 2008, and stands at 38 feet in diameter and has over 30,000 pieces of glass. On the other side of the building is a 40-foot-diameter dome with over 50,000 pieces of glass in an intricate Renaissance pattern that was designed by Healy & Millet. In 1991, the Chicago Cultural Center was established by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs as a place where people could go for free cultural events and to enjoy and learn about the arts.

What to Do

With free music, dance and theatre events, films, lectures, art exhibitions and family events there is always something to do at the Cultural Center. Here are a few of the exhibits going on now.



Featured Exhibit – Shawn Decker: Prairie

“Shawn Decker is a composer, artist, and teacher who creates sound and electronic media installations and writes music for live performance, film, and video. Prairie references the dynamic rhythms of grasslands and the rich soundscape and eco-systems found within, evokes insect sounds, as well as rain, wind, and other rhythms of life within the prairie, enacted within a architectonic minimalism.”

This exhibit runs until Sunday, May 5.

Wired Fridays

Having a bad Friday at work? Every Friday now through May at lunchtime, Wired Fridays will be a series of LunchBreak concerts featuring DJs and electronic music. From ambient to dance, the world of DJs and soundscape artists will be uncovered. If electronic music isn’t your thing, the series will feature other genres of music on Tuesdays and Thursdays.



Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talledega College

This exhibit features “six monumentally-scaled murals painted in 1939-42 by African American artist Hale Woodruff. Never before seen outside of Alabama’s Talladega College, the murals depict the 1839 mutiny by slaves on the Spanish ship La Amistad and its aftermath. Newly restored to their original, vibrant colors, the murals are accompanied by 30 paintings and prints that document Woodruff’s work from the 1920s to the 1940s, making this exhibition a rare opportunity to see this important Harlem Renaissance artist’s work in depth.” Running from March 23 – June 16.

How to get there

If traveling by public transportation, which is the easiest way, you can take the El via the Blue, Brown, Pink, Green, Red, and Orange Lines, and most CTA buses traveling down Michigan Avenue.

If driving, visit their website for information on parking and directions.

Rachel Azark is a writer and lives on Chicago’s northwest side. Read more of her work on her travels on her blog