On a recent trip to Chicago, I was inspired by the classic movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and wanted to have my own version of Ferris and his friends’ exciting jaunt through the Art Institute.
There’s something wonderful about this scene, even if it’s only 2 minutes long. I love that John Hughes included the Art Institute in his visual love letter to Chicago. And I think it’s amazing that the first place 3 teenagers run off to when ditching school is a museum.
There is one slight problem, though. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out in 1986, and it’s safe to say the museum has made a few layout changes since then.
For example, this painting by Gustave Caybutt appeared to be on the first floor gallery in the film, but it is now housed in European Painting and Sculpture Gallery 201.
So we’re gonna do our best. Here’s how to recreate Ferris Bueller’s trip to the Art Institute.
Note: some of these photos are screengrabs from the movie, others were taken during my trip.
How to Recreate the Museum Scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off
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Like I said, we’ll start in Gallery 201 to see “Paris Street, Rainy Day.”
In Art of the Americas Gallery 262 is “Nighthawks.”
And unrelated, but in 263 you can catch “American Gothic” too. You might as well.
Moving into the modern art gallery. Vasily Kandinsky’s “Improvisations” are still side by side in Gallery 392.
Right next to the first Picasso we’ll see in 394.
The next Picasso immediately follows, “The Old Guitarist” in 391.
We’re now in Arts of the Americas, Gallery 273 for Mary Cassatt’s “The Child’s Bath.”
And it’s back to the Modern Art Gallery for “Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz Date” by Amedeo Modigliani in 391.
In the Contemporary Art Gallery 291, we’ll catch Jackson Pollock’s “Greyed Rainbow.”
Then it’s up to the Modern Art Gallery in 391 to see “Bathers by a River,” which I could’ve sworn was a Picasso piece but no, it’s Henri Mattisse.
Back in the Contemporary Art Gallery 389, we’ll get a quick glimpse of Henry Moore’s “Working Model for UNESCO Reclining Figure” before visiting some final iconic works.
The statue where Ferris and his friends strike their iconic pose is, I’m pretty sure, “Portrait of Balzac” in the European Gallery 240.
We’re back to our final Picasso in the Modern Art Gallery 394. I wonder if John was a Picasso stan.
Finally we move into the pieces you probably remember most. And here’s where you can have a little fun. Fake marry your girlfriend in front of Marc Chagall’s “American Windows” in Modern Art Gallery 144.
Visit European Painting and Sculpture Gallery 240. Stare into the abyss of Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.” Have an existential crisis.
There you have it! Now you have a good idea of how to see every work of art featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Now to make sure you aren’t running back and forth between galleries, I’d suggest starting with the European Painting and Sculpture Gallery, to Art of the Americas, to the Modern Art then Contemporary Art Galleries. Go floor by floor, it’s more fun that way.
And even after many visits, both to Chicago and to the Art Institute, I always find something new to appreciate. I had been putting off writing this post too long, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed searching through the archives to find each work and location. I hope you enjoyed this too. Enjoy your trip to Chicago!
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