The museum broke ground on the new project in May of 2005 and nearly four years later, the Modern Wing will have its public debut on May 16, 2009.
Architect Renzo Piano designed the new structure and has been on board since he was selected for the project in 1999.
The facility will add on 65,000 square feet to the Art Institute's available gallery space, an addition that comes out to be "a 30% increase in total museum space," according to an Art Institute fact sheet.
The wing will host photography displays, contemporary art, and European painting galleries, among other exhibits, and it also was designed to to house a number of education-based facilities.
The Modern Wing has been generating a lot of buzz in recent months and back in January it was listed in a New York Times travel segment as a Chicago highlight when the city made the list of the 44 Places To Go in 2009.
In hoping the new addition makes more of a positive cultural affect on its guests instead of a negative impact on the environment, the Art Institute boasts the new wing is not only stunning and functional but it is also environmentally friendly, as well.
Increased landscaping space, an attempt to maximize the use of natural light and the recycling of construction debris are listed among the Art Institute's green goals for the new wing.
Thanks in part to construction techniques allowing for more energy efficient insulation of the galleries and a modern light dimming system that controls light usage based on a number of time and temperature-related variables, "Estimated energy use for the Modern Wing is half that of the existing building," according to an Art Institute environmental fact sheet.
To help commemorate the opening of the new wing, the Art Institute is offering free admission to guests from May 16th through May 22nd.
On May 23rd, the Art Institute will be raising their entry fees from $12 to $18 for adults and from $7 to $12 dollars for students and seniors. Children under 12 will still be admitted free of charge. A museum representative confirmed on NBC5's morning news on Friday May 8 that Chicago residents will receive a $2 admission discount with proof of residency when the new charges are put into place.