Places that Work: A Small Gallery

The small gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago with Chagall’s America Windows is a place that works, mostly, despite the fact that the flow of the space is interrupted by columns. Interestingly, these obstructions–the columns—may even enhance the experience of viewing the windows. To see the windows’ details clearly it’s necessary to get close to them.

The stained glass windows, being the brightest elements in the darkish space, draw you to them. And the light they emit keeps the relatively low ceiling of the room from becoming oppressive. The bluish color palette of the windows is generally relaxing. That said, the room could be enhanced to improve the viewing experience.


I would like to see an unobstructed view, from a distance, so that I might compare the two experiences—the long view with being up close. And it would be great to see all surfaces in the area being dark, to enhance the magical feeling of gliding into a cave with its inspiring light apertures.

Sally Augustin, PhD, is a principal at Design with Science . She is also the editor of Research Design Connections and the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009). She can be reached at

Series Posts: Places that Work

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