Art Institute named top museum by TripAdvisor



The Art Institute of Chicago was named the no. 1 museum in the world by TripAdvisor on the site’s second–annual Traveler’s Choice Awards list. 

By Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

On Sept. 16, the Art Institute of Chicago was named the No. 1 museum

in the world by popular travel site TripAdvisor as part of its annual

Traveler’s Choice Awards.

Kevin Carter, senior public relations manager at TripAdvisor, said the

Traveler’s Choice Awards are determined by a detailed analysis that is

done based on reviews posted on the website.

“Traveler’s Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews

and opinions on TripAdvisor from travelers around the world,” Carter

said. “Currently, TripAdvisor has more than 170 million reviews and

opinions on the site. It’s a tremendous scale of content that informs

our Traveler’s Choice Awards [every year].”

TripAdvisor has an extensive program for the Traveler’s Choice Awards,

including lists for hotels, restaurants and attractions, Carter said.

This is the second annual awards for the attractions list, which

includes museums like the Art Institute.

Zoë Ryan, the Institute’s chair and curator of Architecture and

Design, said the museum’s collection makes it special. The museum is

known for its impressionist collection, but also has galleries that

feature modern, contemporary, Greek and other types of art. The museum

also displays works from lesser-known, emerging artists,

Ryan said.

“We have a project space for architecture and design, which shows

works by young designers and thinkers,” Ryan said. “We’re really

trying to identify who is doing really important work now.”

Tim Cozzens, the interim chair of the Art + Design Department,said the

quality of the collection at a museum and whether it meets the

viewer’s expectations are the most important part of a museum

experience. Good lighting, ease of navigation, cafes and bookstores

are also amenities he sees as beneficial for adding to the consumer

experience at the museum, Cozzens said.

Ryan said the Art Institute is constantly working on improving the

guest experience so that the museum can uphold its reputation. He said

all departments at the museum take comments from the Internet and

individual galleries very seriously, Ryan said. The museum is

currently working on installing more comfortable seating in the

galleries to keep up with the ever-changing nature of museums.

“People are coming and they’re staying for a long time and they are

looking at things on their smartphones,” Ryan said. “You want places

where you can hang out and have more of a social experience.”

The increased use of the Internet and social media are two major

changes that are helping transform the museum experience and bring in

a bigger audience to the Art Institute, Ryan said.

“What I think is really interesting is to see how our museum is

different from other museums or what other people are looking at,”

Ryan said. “We can gain a lot of information from that as much as the

general public can from these [online] communities that

follow museums.”

Ryan said the Art Institute is currently engaged in digitizing the

museum’s entire collection. However, displaying the art on the

Internet is important for providing more information and access to

extremely detailed photos for the museum’s growing audience, Ryan

said. The Art Institute is also using technology to test more

interactive electronic devices to enhance the visitor experience in

the museum, Ryan said.

“Through testing out different types of technology in the museum, we

can really quickly see what type of information people want to look

at,” Ryan said. “[We can see] what types of artwork benefit from

having iPads in the galleries or videos or other types of information.”

Technology has overrun the world, changing not only our lives but also

changing the museum world tremendously, Ryan said.

“Nothing will replace the physical proximity of being in a space with

art,” Ryan said. “Hopefully, [technology provides not only] a broader

understanding, but also increases awareness and the understanding that

art has an important role in our everyday lives.”