AU expands partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago

April 03, 2024

Aurora University expanded its partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, giving students more opportunities to explore one of the largest museums in the world for free.

“There are few better ways to encourage students to think deeply about their world than to give them opportunities to experience the exhilarating heights of human creativity,” said John McCormack, PhD, associate professor of religion and history. “Being so close to Chicago, we have a unique opportunity through the University Partner Program to give all AU students access to this extraordinary collection in a way that enhances our core curriculum and supports our efforts to give students an affordable education.”

Each year, the Art Institute hosts the University Partner Fest, a daylong event where students, faculty, and staff of its 27 member institutions give presentations on works of art. This past February during the 25 student-led art talks, Allison Tremaine ’25 explored the meaning of Domenico Fetti’s “Melancholia” while Cassandra Uhl ’24 discussed “Judith” by Jan Sanders van Hemessen.

McCormack also led a group gallery talk about a portrait of Marie de’ Medici by Frans Pourbus the Younger. The discussion explored how the Queen of France, a member of the powerful House of Medici and regent for her son King Louis XIII, attempted to use her portraiture to reinforce her status in the face of significant challenges to her power after the assassination of her husband, King Henry IV.

Not only did students have the opportunity to lead art talks, connect with peers, and learn from faculty and museum professionals from other partner institutions, but they were also invited to the Art Institute of Chicago’s Museum Career Panel to learn more about the various internship and job opportunities available.

“Making connections with so many people on an interpersonal level and uncovering the different meanings of a piece while doing so has helped me to grow as an educator in ways I haven’t thought of before,” said Tremaine, who is majoring in History and Secondary Education

AU’s membership in the University Partner Program began in fall 2022 and has continued to expand with the museum now hosting one AU Day per semester at the Art Institute of Chicago. During AU Day events, students, faculty, staff, and their guests can receive complimentary admission to all of the galleries and special exhibits, as well as AU-exclusive programming.

The next AU Day at the Art Institute of Chicago takes place on April 6. For more information about AU Day at the Art Institute, contact Mark Walter, PhD, associate professor of philosophy, at