You are here

Museum Records

Curatorial records

Contains primarily exhibition records and office files of curatorial departments. Exhibition files are organized according to the originating department, and include research files, loan correspondence, installation and fundraising documentation, catalogue preparation files, press coverage and follow-up material. Of particular interest are files from the Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture, 1888+ ; the Annual Exhibition of the Artists of Chicago and Vicinity, 1897+ ; and the Annual Exhibition of Applied Arts, 1902-1923.

  • African and Amerindian Art. (1957+)
  • American Arts (before 1900). (1975+)
  • Architecture (1981+)
  • Asian Art (1922+)
  • European Decorative Arts & Sculpture and Classical Arts. (1914+)
  • Harding Collection of Arms and Armor
  • Thorne Miniature Rooms
  • European Painting (before 1900). (1926+)
  • Photography. (1956+)
  • Prints & Drawings. (1910+)
  • Textiles. (1961)
  • Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture. (1953+)
  • Katharine Kuh Papers. (1953-1957)
  • A. James Speyer Papers. (1961-1986)
  • Artists Biographical Data Sheets. (1948-1965)

Libraries and Archives

Records of the Ryerson Library (1901-1957), the Burnham Library of Architecture (1912-1957), and the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries (1957+). The two libraries were merged administratively in 1957, but were not integrated physically until 1967. The records consist primarily of annual reports of the librarians, documentation on major library acquisitions, special projects such as oral histories and microfilming of architectural drawings, and the building history of the libraries.

Museum Education

First established as the Department of Museum Instruction in 1913, the name changed in 1934 to the Department of Museum Education. Prior to 1913, museum guides were available, and on occasion this service was referred to as the Museum Guidance Department, never officially established, and with no permanent staff member assigned to this: senior museum staff members and volunteers performed this service.

  • Gallery of Art Interpretation, 1926-1954
  • Garfield Park Art Gallery, 1935-1937
  • Junior Museum, 1963+

Museum Registration

Records of transactions involving museum collections: Accessions, deaccessions, loans, insurance information, shipping arrangements, condition reports, etc. The majority of the records consists of shipping orders and receipts of object. Access restrictions apply.

Interesting for researchers is the Collection Records series: files arranged by donor or collection name, including correspondence, lists, appraisals, biographical data, etc.

Public Affairs

Press releases, news clippings, audio-visual press coverage and other publicity about Art Institute exhibitions and events. 

  • Press releases
  • Press coverage (microfilm access only)
  • Audio-Visual material
  • Office files

Corporate Records (Office of the Secretary)

Essential archival records of the corporation, documenting the founding of museum and school, changes in its corporate structure and policies, and history of gifts, estates and bequests to the institution.

  • Records of gifts, bequests and estates (access restricted)
  • Charter and by-laws
  • Minutes of the Board of Trustees and its committees, 1879-1991
  • Annual reports, 1880-1997

Historic photographs

Photographs of exhibition installations, buildings occupied by the museum and school, special events, school classes, artists and administrators.