‘Tis the season to celebrate the end of a great year and toast the new year to come. Finding the perfect venue in Chicago — a city known for its history and architecture — is easy when you consider that these elements are combined in some of the city’s iconic museums. Boasting high ceilings, dramatic interiors, and creative collections, these four Chicago museums are our favorites for hosting grand corporate events and galas. Each offers elegant elements and its own specific personality and vibe — all you have to do is choose one that’s right for your celebration (which is harder than it sounds).
Located in the only remaining building from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition is the Museum of Science and Industry. Offering seven fully-transformable spaces, the museum allows you to surround your company’s innovators with the biggest innovations from the last century. Mingle below vintage airplanes and dine next to a historic steam locomotive or in the shadow of a massive WWII German submarine. The Museum of Science and Industry event team designs memorable experiences utilizing its exhibits; consider, for example, hosting an event during the museum’s yearly “Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light” exhibit to entertain in a forest of more than 50 decked-out festive trees centered by a spectacular 45-foot grand tree.
U-505 Submarine Capacity: 120 (seated) – 500 (standing)
Rotunda Capacity: 1200 (seated) – 5500 (standing)
A relaxed atmosphere pairs with contemporary design at this Michigan Avenue museum to create a comfortable venue that will make your guests feel at home — as well as entertained. Warm lighting bathes each space at the American Writers Museum, giving the interactive literary exhibits an inviting glow. Your guests will be surrounded by some of the world’s best poetry, short stories and novels, on display throughout the museum. USA Today named the spot, which opened in 2017, the “best attraction in Illinois.” Five unique spaces make the museum a perfect setting for an event “worth writing about.”
Readers Hall Capacity: 60 (seated) – 100 (standing)
Nation of Writers Capacity: 60 (seated) – 75 (standing)
The Shedd Aquarium is the closest you’ll get to hosting an event under the sea. The aquarium is home to 32,000 aquatic animals, which means your guests can dine bathed in wavy blue light surrounded by sea life. Cocktail with sea otters and beluga whales then dine with a panoramic view of the lake and Chicago’s dazzling skyline. Count on the aquarium’s event team to plan special experiences like the stingray touch pool or outdoor summer parties that coincide with the city’s fireworks display. With nine spaces to choose from, the building’s beautiful early-20th century Greek architecture elevates any event, with tall white columns, stunning alabaster marble accents, and a grand domed ceiling.
Sea Otter Overlook Capacity: up to 40
Kovler Hall Capacity: up to 800
Caribbean Reef and Aquarium Galleries Capacity: 600 (seated) – 1000 (standing)
The perfect mix between a loft venue and an art museum, The Art Institute of Chicago boasts sleek and clean white walls and gorgeous floor to ceiling windows that show off the grand Chicago skyline. Guests can explore the green gardens filled with lush plants and flowers in the summertime or wander through the countless inspiring galleries of the museum and gather in the high ceilinged halls. With 8 event spaces to choose from, hosts can curate celebrations in spots as elegant as the light-filled, modern Griffin Court or as refined as the distinguished reconstruction of the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room.
and elegant Griffin Court, or as refined as the distinguished reconstruction.
Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room Capacity: 300 (seated) – 650 (standing)
Griffin Court Capacity: 400 (seated) – 1000 (standing)
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