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1955–1977: Expansion at Mid-Century

The material shortages that followed World War II brought a halt to the Art Institute’s building additions. Changes began modestly in the 1950s with interior reconstructions, creating spaces to accommodate new curatorial departments.

The growth of the professional staff led to the completion of the first major new structure in more than 20 years in 1958: the B. F. Ferguson Memorial Building. This addition is situated to the north of the original structure, which was named in 1968 after long-time trustee Robert Allerton. The Morton Wing, erected in 1962 to the south of the Allerton Building, was designed to house the expanding modern art collection and restore symmetry to the complex. Mrs. Stanley McCormick's gift of gardens in front of both the Ferguson and Morton additions linked the Art Institute to surrounding parks.

The 1970s saw a sharp increase in both the number of art students and the number of visitors to the museum. The Art Institute responded to this trend with an entirely new east side expansion that included new studios, classrooms, and a film center for the School as well as new public spaces for the museum. This addition also housed the reconstruction of Louis Sullivan's original Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, which had been slated for demolition.

René Magritte. Time Transfixed, 1938. Oil on canvas. Joseph Winterbotham Collection, 1970.426.


 Artist unknown. Fall-Front Desk, 1810/12. Austria, Vienna. Pine with leguminosae veneers, ebonizing, gilding, and gilt bronze. Gift of the Centennial Fund; the Mrs. Burton W. Hales, Mrs. William Hunt Fund, Jessie Spalding Landon Fund, Mrs. Harold T. Martin Fund, Adelaide Ryerson Fund, Mrs. E. Hall Taylor Fund, Philip K. Wrigley Fund, 1976.39.


 Portrait Head Vessel of a Ruler, 100 B.C.–A.D. 500. Moche culture; north coast, Peru. Ceramic with pigment. Kate S. Buckingham Endowment, 1955.2338.

Reconstruction of Louis Sullivan's original Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room.