Chicago Cultural Center Welcome!

In response to COVID-19, the Chicago Cultural Center is closed to the public until further notice.

To protect our visitors and staff, tours will be held in a virtual format for now.

An archival image montage shows Chicago Public libray patrons in Preston Bradly Hall at a wood counter requesting books.

Completed in 1897 as Chicago’s first central public library, the building was designed to impress and to prove that Chicago had grown into a sophisticated metropolis. The country’s top architects and craftsmen used the most sumptuous materials, such as rare imported marbles, polished brass, fine hardwoods, and mosaics of Favrile glass, mother-of-pearl and colored stone, to create an architectural showplace. Located on the south side of the building, the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome ― 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass ― was restored to its original splendor in 2008. On the north side of the building is a 40-foot-diameter dome with some 50,000 pieces of glass in an intricate Renaissance pattern, designed by Healy & Millet.

In 1991, the building was established as the Chicago Cultural Center by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the nation's first and most comprehensive free municipal cultural venue. Every year, the Chicago Cultural Center presents hundreds of free international, national, regional and local artists, musicians and performers, providing a showcase where the public can enjoy and learn about the arts.

We'd love to have you join us for a tour.

 

TYPES OF TOURS

  • Public Tour
  • 45-60 minute free guided tours of the architecture and history of the Chicago Cultural Center buiding.
  • Held Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 1:15 pm, meeting in the Welcome Center.
  • Tours are limited to a maxium of 30 people and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • No reservations required or taken.
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  • Private Tour
  • 45 - 60 minute free guided tour of the architecture and history of the Chicago Cultural Center building.
  • Generally scheduled on Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30am or 12:30pm.
  • For groups of 10-30 by appointment via our registration form only, pending availability.
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  • Exhibition Exploration
  • 45 - 60 minute free guided tour of the architecture and history of the Chicago Cultural Center building and/or the current visual art exhibitions for groups of youth.
  • Generally on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 or 12:30 pm.
  • For groups up to 30 by appointment via our registration form only, pending availability.
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  • Self Guided Tour
  • Explore on your own wherever and whenever you like. Pick up a Visitor Guide in either lobby of the Chicago Cultural Center and follow the must see tour route on the back. 
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  • Video Tours
  • Follow the video links to check out features of our building including Grand Army of the Republic Hall and Rotunda, Sidney R. Yates Gallery and Washington Lobby.