This museum houses a stirring collection of art by Vietnam veterans, and is the only one of its kind in the world. After the war, many veterans made art as personal therapy, never expecting to show it to anyone, but in 1981 a small group began showing their work together in Chicago and in touring exhibitions. The collection has grown to more than 1,500 paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures from all over the world, including Vietnam. (Recently, the museum has also started hosting exhibits of work by veterans who have returned from Iraq.) Titles such as We Regret to Inform You, Blood Spots on a Rice Paddy, and The Wound give you an idea of the power of the images. Housed in a former warehouse in the Prairie Avenue district south of the Loop, the museum is modern and well organized. An installation suspended from the ceiling, Above & Beyond, comprises more than 58,000 dog tags with the names of the men and women who died in the war -- it creates an emotional effect similar to that of the Wall in Washington, D.C. The complex also houses a small theater, cafe (open for breakfast and lunch), gift shop, and an outdoor plaza with a flagpole that has deliberately been left leaning because that's how veterans saw them in combat. Allow 1 hour.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Highly Recommended 2009
- Highly Recommended 2010