The Art Institute of Chicago was founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866, whose purpose was to provide a challenging education in the studio arts and exhibition opportunities for its students. The School incorporated as the Chicago Academy of Fine Art in 1879, and changed its name to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1882. The Museum and School moved into a building designed and built for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Today the School is known as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
Since 1976, SAIC has occupied its own cutting-edge facilities adjoining the Museum and its new Modern Wing overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan with additional buildings throughout an urban campus at the heart of the Chicago Loop. Throughout the history of the School, alumni have played central roles in important art movements. It was SAIC that provided the impetus for two significant schools of American painting—the Regionalists of the 1930s, and the Imagists of the 1960s. Some of the most notable names in the arts received their early training at SAIC, including Georgia O'Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, H.C. Westermann, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Ivan Albright, Ed Paschke, Roger Brown, Halston, LeRoy Neiman, Elizabeth Murray, Cynthia Rowley, David Sedaris, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Sarah Vowell.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Providing degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels, SAIC has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top graduate art programs in the nation, as well as by Columbia University's National Arts Journalism survey as the most influential art school in the United States. SAIC offers a broad and dynamic spectrum of study including art and technology; arts administration; art history, theory, and criticism; art education and art therapy; fashion design; filmmaking; historic preservation and interior architecture; painting and drawing; performance; photography; printmaking; sculpture; sound; time arts (time-based media); video; visual communication; and writing. A comprehensive program in liberal arts emphasizes the critical role that humanities, mathematics, and sciences play in artists' development. The SAIC also serves as a national resource for issues related to the position and importance of the arts in society.
The Art Institute of Chicago is a private, non-profit corporation. The School is a professional college of the visual and related arts, accredited since 1936 by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and as a charter member since 1944 by NASAD, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The School's art education program is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education, and its art therapy program is approved by the Education and Approval Board of the American Art Therapy Association. The Master of Architecture degree program is a candidate for accreditation from the National Architecture Accrediting Board.