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Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is a vibrant arts and cultural hub located in the heart of downtown Chicago. Known for its stunning architecture and as a locale for free public events, it serves as one of the city’s most popular attractions for residents and tourists alike.


Built in 1897 as the city’s first central public library, the Chicago Cultural Center reflects the city’s commitment to the arts. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge in the Beaux-Arts style, featuring classical elements such as domes, columns, and grand staircases. In 1991, it was converted into a cultural center to showcase music, art, and dance, as well as to host various public events and community gatherings.

Architecture and Design

The Chicago Cultural Center is renowned for its opulent interior, which includes two magnificent stained-glass domes. The most famous is the Preston Bradley Hall dome, which is one of the world’s largest Tiffany glass domes, measuring 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass.

Another architectural highlight is the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Hall and its dome, which is a beautifully restored room used for ceremonies and events. The interior is adorned with mosaics, marble, and lavish fixtures, reflecting the building’s original use as a public library and its transformation into a center for the arts.

Exhibits and Events

As a premier venue for the arts, the Chicago Cultural Center hosts a wide array of free public programs, including:

  • Art Exhibits: The center features a range of art exhibitions, often focusing on contemporary art, architecture, and design.
  • Music and Dance Performances: It offers an eclectic mix of concerts and dance performances, spanning various genres and traditions.
  • Film Screenings: The center screens films, including independent and international cinema, as well as documentaries.
  • Lectures and Workshops: Educational talks, lectures, and hands-on workshops are regularly held, covering a variety of topics.
  • Festivals and Special Events: The center is a key venue for city festivals and special events, including the Chicago Jazz Festival and World Music Festival Chicago.

Facilities and Amenities

The Chicago Cultural Center features multiple event spaces, galleries, and studios. There is also a visitor information center, a café, and a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and works by local artists.


The center is fully accessible to visitors with disabilities, offering wheelchairs and other services to ensure all guests can enjoy the facilities and programs.

Address and Visiting Hours

The Chicago Cultural Center is located at:

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Visiting hours can vary, but it is generally open seven days a week. The exact hours and any changes to the schedule are available on the center’s official website.

Website and Contact Information

For the most up-to-date information about exhibits, events, and visiting hours, you can visit the Chicago Cultural Center’s official website:


The Chicago Cultural Center is a monument to the city’s dedication to the arts and culture. Offering an array of free public programs in a building as historically and architecturally rich as the artwork it houses, the center is a place where the public can engage with diverse forms of artistic expression. It stands not only as a local landmark but also as a testament to Chicago’s role as a national leader in cultural enrichment and public arts initiatives.

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