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The Royal Visit of 1959

The Art Institute is no stranger to the British crown. In anticipation of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, set for this Saturday, May 19, let's open the insitutional photo album and take a majestic trip down memory lane.

It is July 6, 1959. Here are Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the Michigan Avenue entrance to the museum. They've come to the Art Institute for a special visit during a whirlwind trip to Chicago. A sign outside the museum proclaims “Closed all day for the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.” (No sign of trumpeters playing a fanfare.)

The Queen and Prince spend 30 minutes at the Art Institute, inspecting our renowned collection.

They view a special exhibition which features a collection of English silverware by women silversmiths of the 18th century as well as English furniture and tapestries. Then her majesty adds extra grandeur to our Grand Staircase.

The Queen also strolls through our cherished Thorne Miniature Rooms. (Why, it seems like only yesteryear!)

In addition to visiting the museum, the Queen’s busy itinerary includes two processions down Michigan Avenue and visits to the Museum of Science and Industry and University of Chicago campus—not to mention an emergency visit to a dentist's office for a filling. Her last words to Mayor Daley before departing Chicago? No, not that this was more agreeable than a toothache, as some scoundrel is bound to suggest.

“This is," she pronounced, "a day I will never forget.”

—Janette Villeda, Member Experience intern