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A Tour of Renzo Piano’s New Modern Wing, Part Two

Continuing on our sneak peek of the Art Institute‘s new Modern Wing, after we’d had a few drinks and chatted with our very lovely hosts (a handsome crowd, those employees, particularly the ones who invited us to come along to the party), we made our way up the stairs. This was a surprisingly nice treat and not just because the new building is pretty to look at. No, it was because Renzo Piano apparently knows someone who makes the most amazing handrails/banisters ever. We’re not sure what exactly it was, but they’re great. They’re thin, but sturdy, unobtrusive but immediately accessible. “What’s with you and the handrails?” this writer’s wife asked him after he wouldn’t shut up about them. “They’re just awesome!” he said. And then, maybe the first person ever in the building to do so, he took a photo of them:

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We should mention that these handrails weren’t the only detail we noticed. Each door leading into the exhibits is a true tactile treat. There’s some sort of mechanism in the push bar, that when you press against it to open the door, there’s a very subtle movement inside the bar itself, like a gentle but firm slide, before the door slides forward. It’s a difficult thing to explain, but we found it very fulfilling (as did another guest who commented, without provocation, “Wow, that’s cool” but unfortunately he couldn’t articulate the experience any better than we). We should also mention that aesthetically, the hallways look great too:

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The layout was as such that it compels you to keep climbing up the stairs (probably because of those lovely handrails), so we moved immediately toward the third floor, where you’re immediately greeted by a great view of Millennium Park and Frank Ghery‘s pavilion across the street, photos of which you can expect to see from any friend of yours who visits the museum from now until eternity (but we got it first, so there):

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But beside the view, you’ll also find a slew of modern paintings and sculptures, from Dali to Picasso, which your wife might stand in front of and beg you to take a picture while she shamelessly mimics art and artistry in general:

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Also some surprising finds, like paintings from Le Corbusier:

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More Le Corbusier:

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And some gorgeous Brancusi:

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All of it, like this famous Magrit, framed nicely with the city and park behind it:

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In the end, once you’ve made your rounds, you wander past the windows toward the back of the building, which we’re hoping will one day be opened up and turned into a courtyard of some kind, given the view, particularly on a lovely spring night as was last:

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Our verdict for floor three of the Modern Wing? One big Miro thumbs up:

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We’ll be back with the final chapter in the tour (our favorite of the visit) with another post in just a little bit.

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