In the neverending quest to attract visitors who have only so many precious work-free hours in a week, the Art Institute of Chicago has launched “Gifts to the City,”a new holiday initiat ive that does not, incidentally, involve giving presents to Rahm Emanuel. Rather, visitors are invited to look for four gift-wrapped objects placed throughout three different galleries in the museum on Saturdays and Sundays until December 31. The first visitor to find an object can unwrap it. And that’s it.
“You mean you don’t get to keep it?” I ask Chai Lee, the associate director of publicity at the Art Institute. “No,” Lee says with a laugh. “These are new acquisitions.” The fun comes from being first. (It’s the IRL version of those asinine “First!” comments on YouTube.) Lee explains the appeal of the project: “In the past couple of years, we’ve been trying to do interesting things around the holidays. This year our theme is unwrapping. It’s a symbolic gesture. It might be an object that you’ve never seen before. We’re encouraging visitors to explore the galleries by unwrapping this artwork.”
In addition to the joy of unwrapping art objects, participants will get a tour of the galleries where these objects will eventually be displayed, including a look at the new Jaharis Gallery of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art. They also get the opportunity to win an item from the museum store if they solve clues on the back of the museum’s brochures. Says Lee, “We’re trying to get into the holiday spirit.”
Scavenge for art Saturdays and Sundays through Dec 23 and every day from Dec 26–31 at 10:30am at the Art Institute of Chicago.