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Chicago's Top Art & Architecture Events 2010

Art Chicago/Artopolis
Art Chicago/Artopolis
Photo: Audia Photography

1. Art Chicago/Artropolis
The Merchandise Mart hosts this three-day exhibition of contemporary and modern art, which showcases work from 180 international galleries and gets covered in international industry publications. Some 50,000 guests—including curators, collectors, and artists—are expected April 30 to May 3.

2. NeoCon World’s Trade Fair
The National Exposition of Contract Furnishings will take over the Merchandise Mart June 14 to 16. Some 700 exhibitors will display their wares for an estimated 40,000 attendees, who can also check out 150 seminars, industry association forums, and keynote presentations.

An acronym for “sculptural objects and functional art,” SOFA will return to Navy Pier November 5 to 7. Last year, the exhibition displayed work from 68 international galleries and drew 31,000 art enthusiasts and collectors. Its opening night party saw a crowd of 3,500.

4. Diffa’s Dining by Design
Fashion designers, architects, painters, and art students dream up stylish dining-room vignettes for this showcase of tabletop trends. A fund-raiser for Design Industry Foundations Fighting AIDS, the event will attract around 14,000 guests to the Merchandise Mart November 4 to 6.

5. Diffa Chicago Gala
Another benefit for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, this black-tie affair serves as the social kickoff for NeoCon. Various creative types, including architects and interior designers, help plan the event and lend artistic flair to its execution—the 2009 gala had centerpieces made of giant clocks. This year’s event will take place June 12 and expects to draw 550 to 750 guests.

6. DesigNight/American Institute of Architects’ Chicago Awards
In 2009, this industry dinner and award ceremony drew 700 architects, designers, contractors, and their clients to Navy Pier’s grand ballroom. More than 252 projects competed to win honors in four categories, including urban design and interior architecture. The 2010 event is slated for October 29.

7. U.S. Green Building Council’s Emerald Gala
The council’s local chapter hosts this dinner-dance, which includes an award presentation that recognizes eco-minded business leaders, government officials, and building practitioners. Last year, 25 sponsors included ComEd and Bank of America. The 2010 event will take place on May 22 at Soldier Field, with around 500 guests.

8. International Interior Design Association Black Tie Celebration
The association hosts its annual gala on the first night of NeoCon. With dinner, dancing, and an award ceremony, the event typically attracts 500 designers and manufacturers. The formal gathering will take place in June.