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Art Institute of Chicago closes Modern Wing display

By Madeline Nusser

For Sun-Times Media

Those looking to see the Art Institute of Chicago’s many Picasso paintings will be hit with a surprise. On Sept, 3, the institution quietly closed its renowned European Modern galleries, alerting museumgoers with a third-floor placard: “Come celebrate the opening of the modern galleries April 2014.”

The shuttering disconcerted some local culture fans, including Art Institute member Pam Carroll, who visited on a Thursday. “I asked people at the admissions desk what’s going on — no one could give me an answer. It’s as if this is no big deal.”

Art Institute spokeswoman Erin Hogan provided few details by phone: “We’re doing work on the galleries. It’s easier to do it all at once rather than piecemeal.”

Only four years old, the $294 million dollar Modern Wing has faced its share of construction problems. Asked if ongoing problems exist, Hogan said, “We don’t call them ‘problems.’”

Hogan specified that during the next seven months fixes to the third floor include painting, refinishing cases and podia, tweaking flooring, and solving issues with light-harvesting and motion-sensor systems.

As of Friday small signs appeared atop ticket-booth counters, warning patrons of the construction.

Museumgoers — who, at the Art Institute, pay $23 for a general admission ticket—can often access a smaller display of highlights from the collection when galleries of this fame face reinstallation. Not so here.

The museum sent around 100 works to the Kimbell Art Museum. Hogan would not comment on the amount of money involved in the loan arrangement. Should you want to see the art, the exhibition “The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from The Art Institute of Chicago” runs Oct. 6 to Feb. 16, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Madeline Nusser is a local freelance writer.

Follow @MadelineNusser

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