Q: What are some of the best art venues in the area?

Whether you are an artist, art lover, or just looking for something fun to do, C-U has a lot to offer when it comes to art. Despite a seemingly “middle-of-nowhere” location, the art scene in town is vibrant.

There are art venues on the U of I campus, the Parkland campus, in downtown Urbana, downtown Champaign, as well as at many festivals and events. Here is a breakdown of where to find art in C-U:

University of Illinois campus

Krannert Art Museum is the second largest fine arts museum in Illinois with a diverse permanent collection of over 8,000 works of art.

At KAM you will find nine permanent galleries devoted to ancient Mediterranean art, Pre-Columbian art, the arts of Africa and Asia, and European and American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts.

You can see art by the bigwigs such as Warhol, Rothko, and Rembrandt, as well as exciting and innovative contemporary work at KAM’s traveling exhibitions.

The museum is located at 500 E. Peabody Dr., C. and is connected to the Art and Design Building. When visiting KAM, be sure to check out the Link Gallery, the space that connects the Art and Design Building to the museum. There you will find exhibitions of student artwork.

Another museum on campus is The Spurlock Museum located at 600 S. Gregory St., in Urbana.

The Spurlock is a cultural history museum with approximately 43,000 objects in its collection and covers six continents.

Here, you can learn interesting bits of information and see a lot of really cool and, often, really beautiful artifacts.

If you find yourself in the Illini Union, be sure to check out the art gallery there as well. The Illini Union Art Gallery showcases works of students, faculty and staff, as well as local artists and traveling exhibits.

Parkland College

Parkland College is located at 2400 W. Bradley Ave. in Champaign. The Parkland Art Gallery holds exhibitions of local, regional, and national contemporary artists.

Because exhibitions are always changing, you are sure to find something new and interesting here.

Also, check out the The Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland for awesome light shows.

Downtown Urbana

My favorite place in downtown Urbana is the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. Located in the old Urbana post office at 202 S. Broadway Ave., the IMC houses and promotes groups and individuals who use media and distribution to advocate social and economic justice.

At the IMC you can find: radio station WRFU (FM 104.5), the Bike Project Co-op (who offer the space, tools, and knowledge to fix your bike), UC Books To Prisoners (offering free books to inmates in Illinois), and the Public i (an independent, alternative publication). The IMC rents artists’ studios and often hosts art shows.

There are also a number of art galleries in downtown Urbana, which are all pretty much all located on Main St. Heartland Gallery specializes in handmade items from the Celtic lands and local art and fine crafts.

Furniture Lounge, a cool consignment shop also has an upstairs art gallery, FLEXSPACE, which hosts some pretty cool shows.

Cinema Gallery, located in an old theater, shows the work of over 50 artists from Central Illinois.

Downtown Champaign

Many of the shops and restaurants in downtown Champaign also function as art venues. A few to note are Cafe Kopi and Radio Maria. The art shown at Kopi and Radio is consistently good and the coffee, food, and atmosphere of both places are excellent as well.

If you are looking to buy something original and artistic, downtown Champaign is the place to go.

For clothing, go to Circles Boutique, which has interesting and fashionable finds. For good vintage clothing try Dandelion or Carrie’s.

Also, be sure to check out Ten Thousand Villages, which offers fair trade handicrafts of “third world” artisans. For handmade work of local and North American artists check out Wind Water & Light Gallery.

If you want to practice your life drawing skills, go to Boneyard Pottery on Monday nights, located at 403 S. Water St.

Lastly, Springer Cultural Center (301 N Randolph St.), part of the Champaign Park District, often holds art exhibitions, workshops, and lectures.


Perhaps best time for art in C-U is the annual Boneyard Arts Festival, happening each spring. Downtown Urbana, downtown Champaign, the University campus, and Parkland all host a multitude of art exhibitions and events.

Also in the spring, the graduating University art students put on their senior thesis shows at locations all around CU.

This is an exciting time, as you can be sure to see a variety of art by your peers, ranging from more traditional to innovative and experimental work.

Additionally, the annual Artists against AIDS festival happens each spring, where proceeds from the sale of works donated by local artists help support the fight again HIV/AIDS.

And finally, for listings of art events in C-U visit http://40north.org. 40 North | 88 West is CU’s arts council that supports art and culture. Check this Web site often to always be in the know when it comes to art in C-U.