Since the 19th century, Chicago’s urban landscape has experienced continuous change. Over time, many transformations of the city’s streets and neighborhoods have become invisible, preserved only in collective memory and archival photographs. Architectural fragments provide another avenue to understanding our urban past, including historical building practices and technologies, our dynamic communities, and evolving ways of life.
In this new installation, sculptural elements from building facades and interiors are displayed in groups that allow visitors to learn about many architecturally or culturally significant structures and moments in Chicago. These range from celebrated buildings by well-known architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan to important local histories related to the South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville, labor, and preservation.
Featuring well-loved works from the permanent collection alongside important new acquisitions—such as a stained-glass window by Marion Mahony Griffin and a terracotta bust of an Egyptian pharaoh by Walter Bailey—this installation, designed by the Chicago-based practice Norman Kelley, offers dynamic encounters with the museum’s rich holdings of architectural fragments, an integral part of our shared material history.
Architectural Fragments from Chicago is curated by Alison Fisher, Harold and Margot Schiff Curator, Architecture and Design.