Artropolis 2011: Guide To Chicago's Major Springtime Art Festival

Now in its fifth year, Artropolis has become one of the biggest annual celebrations of art in Chicago. The fair, which runs from April 29 through May 2, is comprised of three events: Art Chicago, which features contemporary and modern art from around the world; NEXT, an exhibition of up-and-coming artists; and The Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair, where collectors and antiques lovers can access more than 100 top antiques dealers.

Between these three components, Artropolis is jam-packed with special exhibitions, speakers, parties and more. You won't be able to see it all in four days, so we've taken the liberty of highlighting the must-see exhibits and events at this art fair.

First Focus Benefit: This big bash kicks off the weekend festivities with an exclusive first look at the exhibits that will be featured at Artropolis. Guests at the First Focus Benefit will get several perks, including complimentary appetizers and cocktails, access to book signings with artists like Laura Letinsky and an all-weekend VIP pass to the fair. Plus, the proceeds of the event go to the Museum of Contemporary Art right here in Chicago. Wed., April 28 from 3 pm - 6 pm; $150 per person 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor; 312-397-3868

Think Global, Collect Local: If you're interested in buying works from local artists, this panel of prominent collectors and curators provides the perfect opportunity to learn more. Once you've soaked in their wise words, you can check out the many Chicago art dealers who will be present at the fair. Look for booths from Corbett & Dempsey, art-VARIANT, White Wings Press and other local galleries. Thur., April 29 from 3 pm - 4 pm; $20 for a day pass or $25 for a multi-day pass 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor; 800-677-6278

New Insight: This special exhibition will feature works from MFA students in some of the best graduate art programs in the country. New Insight is curated by Susanne Ghez, director of The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. Unlike other exhibitions at Art Chicago, New Insight will tell more about art's future than about where it is today. Thur., April 29 - Mon., May 2; $20 for a day pass or $25 for a multi-day pass 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor; 800-677-6278