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'Northwestern Night' at Art Institute of Chicago

Event celebrates new partnership granting free museum admission to undergraduates

Through a new partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University undergraduate students now receive free admission to the Art Institute of Chicago, made possible by a very generous donation from Shirley Welsh Ryan (Weinberg '61), a member of the Art Institute’s board of trustees and wife of Chicago businessman Patrick Ryan (Kellogg '59). The partnership will be celebrated at the first “Northwestern Night” at the Art Institute from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 23.

Through this partnership, undergraduate students are granted free admission to the museum during normal museum hours, and have access to all special exhibitions, lectures and programs. These dynamic learning opportunities are designed to serve a broad spectrum of audiences and to enhance perception and spur creativity.

On “Northwestern Night,” all Northwestern students, faculty and staff, as well as their families and guests, are invited to visit the Art Institute Thursday, Jan. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission will be free. Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin and Martha Tedeschi, deputy director of the Art Institute and a Northwestern alumna, will introduce the event. Museum educators from the Art Institute and staff members from Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art will be on hand to give special tours and lectures throughout the evening.

No RSVP is required. Wear Northwestern purple, skip the main ticketing line and check in with your WildCARD at a registration table inside the Michigan Avenue entrance only. Visit for a full listing of special exhibitions and to find visitor information on parking, public transportation and dining facilities. Attend special programs and lectures or explore the exhibitions at your leisure.

The University is committed to expanding opportunities for students to engage with and learn in Chicago. Be on the lookout for more opportunities to be announced in the coming months.

Free transportation and dinner for Northwestern undergraduate students will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

For CTA directions and more information about the partnership and the event, please visit Northwestern’s Center for Student Involvement website or Facebook page: or

About Shirley Ryan

Shirley Ryan is a 1961 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. She is chair of and serves on the executive committee or board of directors of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Alain Locke Charter Academy. Shirley has been appointed by two U.S. presidents to the President’s National Council on Disability and has served as chairman of the Chicago Community Trust. She founded and directs Northwestern University’s invitational graduate-level Learning for Life series and has been a charter member of Northwestern's Women’s Board since 1978.

About the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute, founded in 1879, now has approximately 300,000 works of art in its permanent collection, stewarded by 11 curatorial departments and nearly 500 employees. This collection is housed in eight buildings -- nearly 1 million square feet -- at the heart of Chicago, one block from Lake Michigan and serving as the eastern anchor of the city's downtown. In addition to displaying the permanent collection, the Art Institute hosts 30 special exhibitions and hundreds of gallery talks, lectures, performances and events every year. It has one of the finest research libraries for art and architecture in the country as well as state-of-the-art conservation facilities that ensure that the art of the past carries on well into the future.  

As a University partner, Northwestern has access to more than 400,000 print titles in the Ryerson and Burnham libraries. Processed archival collections are included in the library’s catalog and are available to all museum visitors. The wealth of information in the libraries is an invaluable resource to students, staff and faculty of all disciplines.

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