MIA Stories

  • MIA STORIES is the museum beyond the walls, outside the frame, at the lively intersection of life and art. From behind-the-scenes buzz to inspiring connections with current events, it’s the museum in conversation.

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Archives_Goetz describing St. Margaret

Once at MIA: An encounter of crowns

Only one of these three is lacking a crown, if not credentials. He’s Dr. Oswald Goetz, a medieval expert from the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1949, he accompanied his museum’s carving of St. Margaret of Alexandria to the MIA for an unprecedented show of sculpture from around the world. The MIA had hoped to duplicate . . . Keep reading »

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Art Inspires: Jim Lenfestey on the mysterious poetry of Cold Mountain, a voice in ink on silk

During my four-decade love affair with the voice of poet Han-shan, or Cold Mountain, I have seen many paintings of him. He was unkown in his lifetime—possibly even a legend. But his image became very popular in China. And of all the paintings I have seen, I love this portrait at the MIA the best. Not . . . Keep reading »

MIA art students

Once at MIA: Artists at work

They seem caught in the act—of something. Painting a nude? Abstraction (gasp)? The woman with the large eyes holds the camera’s gaze as if daring the photographer—and us—to see what the brush is putting down. But they were almost certainly posed, standing as still for the camera as whatever was being painted. They were art . . . Keep reading »

Once at MIA_Babes in Arms

Once at MIA: Babes in arms

Was this part of an ill-conceived Touch Anything You Want Day? A routine hazing of museum interns? We have no idea. What we do know is that it’s 1941, the children are in the museum’s former Medieval Gallery with the Explorers Club museum youth group, and those pikes look awfully sharp. But let’s assume the . . . Keep reading »


Once at MIA: The art of partying

We don’t know what these arty partiers, these ’80s-era swells, were imbibing at the MIA—or why. These days, there needn’t be an occasion: the MIA sells beer and wine in its restaurants; happy hour begins at 2:30 p.m. But for a long time there wasn’t any alcohol at the MIA, and there wasn’t supposed to . . . Keep reading »