Things to Do: Arts & Culture
Within Hyde Park’s mile-square boundary thrives an astonishingly rich and diverse cultural landscape. From museums to music, art to architecture, Hyde Park has it all. In addition to sponsoring a vast array of cultural events, myriad community and university organizations offer opportunities to participate in the arts as well. Here’s a tip-of-the-iceberg sampler of what the neighborhood has to offer:
Museums run the gamut from the Museum of Science and Industry, one of world’s largest science museums, to the intimate Renaissance Society. You’ll also find the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Oriental Institute Museum, and the Smart Museum of Art.
The Hyde Park Art Center presents regular exhibitions of Chicago-area artists’ work and offers classes for children and adults. And every year in June, 57th Street and Kimbark Avenue become a bustling open-air market for top-quality arts and crafts as the 57th Street Art Fair brings artists from across the U.S. and Canada to the neighborhood. Many Hyde Park booksellers—most notably the Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books—host frequent book signings and meet-the-author events.
The University of Chicago hosts a wide array of cultural events throughout the year, from concerts to lectures to exhibits. The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, founded by a group of Hyde Parkers in 1960, presents an annual comic opera. Hyde Park has a rich tradition of blues and jazz. In 2007, the Hyde Park Cultural Alliance, the Hyde Park Jazz Society, and the University of Chicago launched the Hyde Park Jazz Festival.
At the University of Chicago, Court Theatre’s professional ensemble presents classic plays as well as engaging community students in its education and outreach programs. The Hyde Park School of Dance has established a reputation as a premier school for dancers of all ages.
In a city known for architecture, Hyde Park stands out. Among its gems are the neoclassical Museum of Science and Industry, built for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style Robie House; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s first high-rise; and the Gothic quadrangles of the University of Chicago campus. Stroll down any of Hyde Park’s tree-lined streets—or take a Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tour—and you are sure to find buildings that delight the eye and capture the imagination.