Skip to Content

To best protect the health and safety of our community, the museum is temporarily closed. Learn more.

Detail image of green water lilies with pink flowers on blue water, 1933.1157

Archival Collections


Image of woman in black standing in between rows of boxes

The Ryerson and Burnham Archives collect artists’ and architects’ papers that illuminate the development of art and architecture in Chicago and the Midwest from the 1870s to the present, as well as complement the museum’s permanent collections. The archives contain a wide range of media, including photographs, architectural drawings, correspondence, writings, scrapbooks, business papers, audio recordings, film, video, and ephemera.

The collection is renowned for the caliber of its holdings related to both the First and Second Chicago Schools, including the world’s preeminent archival collections of Louis Sullivan and Daniel H. Burnham. Additional strengths in architecture include the Prairie School, the development of the skyscraper, regional iterations of postmodernism and vernacular styles, the history of Chicago urban planning, and the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. With regard to the fine arts and design, the archives demonstrate exceptional depth in 20th-century local fine art galleries, Art Institute and School of the Art Institute staff and alumni, the Bauhaus in Chicago, regionally based industrial designers, and the influence of local educators on the development of modern arts pedagogy.

Search the Collections

You can also browse the full collections
Images & media

Finding aids

Oral histories (architects)

Oral histories (artists

Featured Content

Archival image of the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, about 1971
Chicago Stock Exchange Building
About 1971. Richard Nickel Archive.

Contact the Ryerson and Burnham Archives

For image rights and reproductions of works of art from the museum’s curatorial collections, review the information on imaging licensing and contact Art Resource accordingly. The Ryerson and Burnham Archives does not manage such requests and cannot provide information or guidance regarding any such inquiries.

For information on works of art from the museum’s curatorial collections, how to identify or find the value of a work of art, Art Institute exhibitions and the history of the Art Institute or the School of the Art Institute, including staff, students, or faculty, please contact the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries’ reference desk at

For information regarding our archival collections or for general questions on architecture in Chicago and the Midwest, please contact Ryerson and Burnham Archives at (312) 857-7676 or


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions