November 23, 2017Although people around the world view Halloween as a thoroughly American holiday, it has a far more complicated story than that. In fact, Halloween is a mash-up of ancient Celtic paganism, early Roman Catholicism, nineteenth-century American immigration, modern suburbanism and commercialism, and much, much more.
October 04, 2017The Belle Époque posters adorning the galleries of the Driehaus Museum right now shouldn’t, by all rights, exist. They are more than a century old, printed on flimsy paper, with inexpensive inks. Some were once even displayed outside, where the wind, rain, and sun of Paris in its various seasons beat down on them.
September 20, 2017In 1853, an event in the world of foreign relations and commercial trade transformed Western art forever: Japan opened its borders. Wares from this once heavily isolated island in the Far East began to flow into Europe for the first time since 1633.
August 15, 2017In Paris in the nineteenth century, Jules Chéret and the other grand masters of the lithographic poster—Alphonse Mucha, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Eugène Grasset, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec—took the medium from mere informational advertising to high art, causing the medium’s popularity to skyrocket.
July 05, 2017There is perhaps no other artist as closely associated with Paris’s ‘Beautiful Age,’ the Belle Époque, than Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. His art of the late 19th century captured the colorful whirlwind of a raucous, modernizing city, from raunchy cabaret promotions to provocative brothel scenes. He was drawn to the avant-garde performers and prostitutes at very edge of society; an outsider himself, his own experiences informed his subjects.
June 23, 2017Our staff is always asked about their backgrounds and how they came to work at the Driehaus Museum. So we wanted to share some of our amazing team with everyone. And, as always, let us know if you have any other questions.
April 20, 2017This poster for Joseph Bardou Company, or JOB, a Parisian manufacturer of cigarette papers, unabashedly celebrates the sensuous delights of smoking. The young woman’s eyes are closed with pleasure as the lighted cigarette sends a smoky arabesque curving around the image. Her hair cascades around her shoulders and arms, dominating the picture frame. Her white dress, low-cut and gently loose around her body, communicates a freedom only a few women would have enjoyed in the 1890s.
March 14, 2017The history of the poster starts with black-and-white broadsides in the 1600s, which evolved in the wake of the printing press.
February 01, 2017Young and stunning, with sculpted eyebrows and a head of rich brunette curls, French actress Sarah Bernhardt first captured the ardor of Paris’s theatre-going elite in the 1870s. The rest of the world’s attention inevitably followed. Admiring critics, resorting to poetic metaphor, likened her voice to pure gold, a nightingale, silver dawn, the stars and moon, and murmuring water.
December 29, 2016During the Gilded Age, the American traditions of New Year’s Eve started to transition from the folk celebrations of immigrants to the elaborate soirees we are more familiar with today, especially for those of a certain class.
December 09, 2016This time of year we all have our favorite holiday traditions that help us get into the spirit of the season. Below, we are happy to share with you some of the experiences that those of us who are a part of the Driehaus Museum enjoy most! We hope you enjoy and wish you a very Happy Holiday Season!
November 15, 2016“The object, purpose, and aim in view of the Society and its branches, as set forth in the constitution and in the brief but pointed talk which followed the making of the report, were to put down the vile traffic in obscene books, pictures, etc., by prosecuting those responsible for it either under the Revised Statutes or the State laws. The extent of the evil, which has shown its ugly head with peculiarly refreshing boldness of late, was dwelt upon to some extent, and the movement met with the unqualified moral and financial support of all present. The constitution was unanimously adapted…”
November 01, 2016In 1893, Chicago put on a fair that would awe the world. The World’s Columbian Exposition, so called in honor of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World, displayed the most fascinating innovations and arts of the period in one grand place. The fair organizers envisioned a 630-acre park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of New York Central Park fame, filled with bone-white neoclassical buildings by such eminent architects as Henry Ives Cobb, Richard Morris Hunt, Charles McKim, and Louis Sullivan.
October 16, 2016Standing on the shoulders of the Industrial Revolution, the Gilded Age spawned an astounding number of inventions that profoundly changed life inside the American household. Those last few decades of the 19th century will always be known as a great era of invention.
September 24, 2016Via The New York Times: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opens on Sept. 24 in Washington after a long journey.
September 01, 2016This post is part of a series exploring the stories behind the Driehaus Museum’s latest exhibition, With a Wink and a Nod: Cartoonists of the Gilded Age.
May 16, 2016Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, had a brief reign from 1901 to 1910, but it was a decade marked by peace and prosperity at the height of the British Empire. The Edwardian period was indeed a “Gilded Age,” both in England and America.
April 28, 2016Our staff is always asked about their backgrounds and how they came to work at the Driehaus Museum. So we wanted to share some of our amazing team with everyone. And, as always, let us know if you have any other questions.
March 30, 2016In the early decades of the 20th century, the fictional Crawley family of Downton Abbey® hosted grand dinners and fretted about the Great War. At the same time, the real Fisher family was doing the same—right here in this Gilded Age mansion the Driehaus Museum calls ‘home.’
March 14, 2016When you see the fashions on display in Dressing Downton™: Changing Fashion for Changing Times, you step into a broader cultural tale about the vast changes sweeping the world in the first decades of the 20th century.
February 12, 2016Today’s blog is part of an occasional series dedicated to answering visitors’ questions.
January 04, 2016First name? Corie-ann What is your title and what role does your position play at the Driehaus Museum? Museum Store Manager – My job is to ensure the day to day running of the Museum Store. I also choose and buy all of the merchandise and set up all of our displays.
December 02, 2015Our staff is always asked about our backgrounds and how they came to work at the Driehaus Museum. So we wanted to share some of our amazing team with everyone. And, as always, let us know if you have any other questions.
October 16, 2015You Asked… What’s the Story with the “Crapper” Toilets in the Driehaus Museum Bathrooms? Today’s blog post is part of an occasional series dedicated to answering visitors’ questions.
September 14, 2015Our staff is always asked about our backgrounds and how they came to work at the Driehaus Museum. So we wanted to share some of our amazing team with everyone. And, as always, let us know if you have any other questions.
August 25, 2015Today’s blog is part of an occasional series dedicated to answering visitors’ questions.
August 10, 2015Our staff is always asked about our backgrounds and how they came to work at the Driehaus Museum. So we wanted to share some of our amazing team with everyone. And, as always, let us know if you have any other questions.
July 30, 2015Mr. Vanderbilt’s House and Collection (1884), a beautifully bound two-volume set that brings to life William H. Vanderbilt’s monumental “Brownstone Twins” and their contents on New York’s Fifth Avenue, is now on view in the Sculpture Gallery at the Driehaus Museum.
July 17, 2015Our staff is always asked about our backgrounds and why we ended up working for the Driehaus Museum. So we wanted to share some of our amazing team with everyone. And, as always, let us know if you have any other questions.
July 06, 2015It’s finally summer in Chicago and you’ve done the usual: baseball game, boat tours, street festivals and so forth. It’s time to check out some of the gems of the city, some of which a lot of people don’t realize are right near them. We are going back through the archives of the Driehaus Museum Blog to suggest some great places to bike or take the train over and explore!
June 22, 2015Art, according to John Ruskin, the influential writer of the British Arts and Crafts movement, is most beautiful when its forms are derived from nature.
May 24, 2015Every piece of art jewelry on view in the Driehaus Museum’s latest exhibition, Maker & Muse: Women and Early 20th Century Art Jewelry, is a stunner in its own right. But this is not art in a vacuum; not jewelry for jewelry’s sake.
May 18, 2015John Gardner Low was a ceramics artist of about 41 when he approached the crowded exhibitions in Philadelphia at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. He was a Massachusetts man and had traveled far, like the millions of others, to see the first U.S. world’s fair.
May 06, 2015The elegant circlet is repossé silver, crafted from melted silver spoons donated by the women of Lombard, Illinois, in 1930. It was created as a symbol of Lilac Time, the annual springtime celebration in this west-suburban village. The crown adorned the first Lilac Festival Queen—whose name and the names of several other early Queens are etched in the crown’s interior—and continues to be an integral part of the festivities today.
April 15, 2015As we reflect today on the 103-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook an entire culture’s belief in its own bright, progressive destiny, some American teens have supposedly been surprised to discover that the RMS Titanic’s sinking was, in fact, real. (“I never knew titanic actually happened,” one tweeted. “Always thought it was just a film,” wrote another.)
December 24, 2014On February 14, 2015, The Driehaus Museum will open an exhibit entitled Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry. This exhibition will focus on women as the creators of and inspiration for Arts and Crafts-style and Art Nouveau-style jewelry.
November 21, 2014Last December, Time magazine published an article on the psychology of gift-giving, addressing the questions that plague us each year as we search for the perfect gift for the perfect—or not-so-perfect—person in our lives.
October 01, 2014The standard for the American mind, wrote M.G. Van Rensselaer, is to be “alive with mere curiosity as [much as] it is with a craving for instruction—pleased to look at anything, discontented only to think that other people are seeing things with which it cannot make acquaintance.”
August 21, 2014He originally titled it, Portrait of Madame ***, in an attempt to conceal his voluptuous sitter’s identity. As far as Paris society was concerned, the woman’s identity was far from the only asset the painting failed to cover.
July 21, 2014A young architect carved the distinctive lion heads on the lacquered-cherry wood fireplace mantel and the bookcases in the gallery of the Marble Palace. He was Robert E. Seyfarth, (Born 1878, Blue Island, Illinois) and an employee of both August Fiedler and George Washington Maher.
June 21, 2014Visitors to the Driehaus Museum often cite the gallery as a favorite room with its marvelous stained glass dome and massive wood-burning fireplace. Lined with lacquered cherry bookcases and featuring an iridescent mosaic tile Art Nouveau surround, it is the one room in the mansion that was completely redecorated in 1901 thanks to the second owner, Lucius George Fisher Jr.
May 21, 2014“We strongly advocate the use of different styles in different rooms, to avoid the monotonous effect invariably produced by the fanatic apostles of the so-called Eastlake or Modern Gothic. For the same reasons it will be necessary for articles of luxury, as Easels. Hanging Shelves, Cabinets, etc., to use motifs from the Mooresque, Byzantine, Japanese, etc., though diametrically opposed to the prevailing style of the room.” – August Fiedler
April 21, 2014The two honorees were awarded prizes for their contributions to the built environment during a public ceremony which took place at the John B. Murphy Memorial Auditorium on March 29.
March 21, 2014The Tiffany Girls faced their toughest critic since the old master himself during a recent twilight tour at the Driehaus Museum. Susan Vreeland, author of the acclaimed bestselling novel, Clara and Mr. Tiffany, was the featured speaker at the Driehaus Winter Book Club this March. She also gave two lectures at the museum on the Women’s Department at Tiffany Studios. Vreeland provided some valuable insights as she accompanied “Clara Driscoll” and “Agnes Northrop” on a historic reenactment through their temporary studio and showroom in the Nickerson Mansion.
February 18, 2014Happy 166th Birthday to Louis Comfort Tiffany born February 18, 1848.
January 30, 2014The Driehaus Museum is excited to introduce its first Book Club series. We begin the series with Sally Sexton Kalmbach’s book Jewel of the Gold Coast: Mrs. Potter Palmer’s Chicago. The Jewel of the Gold Coast book clubs take place on January 30th and February 5th. Here is a brief selection from the book, as well as a conversation with Anna Wolff, Driehaus Museum Educator.
December 24, 2013As the Nickerson and Fisher families looked forward to their holiday seasons, they and other Gilded Age families would have enjoyed games, toys and books in their spare time.
October 14, 2013For the Museum Store, L’Esperance Tile was commissioned to craft two custom tiles inspired by the J. & J. G. Low Art Tile Works tiles found in the Driehaus Museum—which, with their embossed natural details, jewel-toned colors, and sheen, are among the most stunning surviving elements of the this 1883 mansion.
October 05, 2013Cyrus H. McCormick was many things. A native Virginian who became one of Chicago’s great industrialists, he was also a famous penny-pincher, generous philanthropist, stolid Presbyterian, and patent hound. He moved to Chicago in 1847, where he set up the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company factory and prospered.
October 04, 2013The Driehaus Museum has three sister institutions in Europe, each simply resplendent and embodying the highest ideals of preservation and classical architecture, just as we strive to do here in Chicago.
September 28, 2013The lamps are lit, the windows are aglow, and the flowerform vases are arranged like small, beautiful glass gardens.
September 10, 2013“For the last five years Mr. Nickerson has been considered one of the choice fish in the social swim,” wrote a New York Telegraph correspondent, “and all sorts of bait have been thrown at him.”
August 06, 2013As we draw nearer to the opening of the Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibition, this work—created by one of the artists he employed—is a fitting one to stop and enjoy for a moment. On view in the Drawing Room on the mansion’s first floor, it is an elegant and simple painting with quite a history behind it, one which has only recently come to light.
July 12, 2013The Driehaus Museum Store is celebrating its grand opening this Saturday, July 13. Here is a sneak peek of just a few of the beautiful items you’ll find inside, as well as a conversation with Corie Walcott, the Driehaus Museum Store Coordinator.
July 08, 2013Help Wanted: The Summer Servants’ Tour, the Driehaus Museum’s first living history tour, debuted in 2012 and has become one of our most popular programs.
June 28, 2013Edward J. Burling was, arguably, the first great architect in this city of great architects.
June 17, 2013This fanciful blown-glass work by Tiffany Studios always stirs the curiosity of visitors to the Reception Room. Despite appearing to be just an objet d’art to admire, it is designed to serve a function—as a humidor, used to preserve tobacco in an airtight space.
June 08, 2013The Driehaus Museum officially turns five years old today.
May 20, 2013Henry Flagler and Henry Plant had much in common. Both came from humble American beginnings; were undereducated relative to their future self-made success; adopted New York City as home;
May 15, 2013We are so inspired by the image of Robert Redford as the lovelorn Jay Gatsby, standing on a Newport mansion’s balcony—an image that combines a character of the Lost Generation with the architecture of the Gilded Age—that we decided to show the 1974 film in our own Gilded Age mansion as the first of our new Mix and Mingle at the Movies program series.
May 07, 2013The gleaming White City of the World’s Columbian Exposition made Daniel H. Burnham, architect, into a city planner.
April 24, 2013Last week we welcomed Erin Feher, the journalist and author of a forthcoming book about San Francisco’s residential architectural heritage, to the Museum as part of the Nickerson Lecture Series.
April 20, 2013You Asked… What is the story behind the peach-colored mansion catercorner to the Driehaus Museum?
April 16, 2013Remember last week, when we told you that our second-floor galleries are intended to someday play host to decorative arts exhibitions? Well, the time has (almost) come.
April 11, 2013Today’s blog is part of an occasional series dedicated to answering visitors’ questions.
April 04, 2013A beautiful Romanesque house was completed for John and Frances Glessner in 1887, just five years after the dust had settled from construction on our Nickerson mansion.
March 24, 2013Louis Majorelle made a splash at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900 at a precise and brief moment in European art history.
March 19, 2013It’s become a Nickerson Lecture Series tradition to welcome a local scholar for the first lecture of the season.
March 01, 2013In the late 1970s, celebrating women started with International Women’s Day on March 8.
February 25, 2013Named for the man who commissioned the historic mansion the Driehaus Museum lives in today, the Samuel M. Nickerson Lecture Series is one of our most popular programs.
February 18, 2013It’s not just the entertainment industry that has an awards season.
February 11, 2013The Driehaus Museum has three sister institutions in Europe, each simply resplendent and embodying the highest ideals of preservation and classical architecture, just as we strive to do here in Chicago.
February 04, 2013Remember The Polar Express? Jumanji? The Mysteries of Harris Burdick?
January 28, 2013Patenting his electric lightbulb would, more than Edison’s 1,093 other inventions, cement his spot as American inventor extraordinaire.
January 21, 2013This inkstand from the Driehaus Collection packs some of the most eye-catchingly elaborate designs and materials into a small and functional space.
December 23, 2012Each year since the Driehaus Museum opened in 2008 has come with its own sense of growth and accomplishment. But by all accounts, 2012 was a particularly wonderful, milestone-filled year.
December 17, 2012The following blog post by WBEZ architecture critic Lee Bey, originally titled “New ‘Lost Chicago’ Book Explores the City That Once Was,” was published November 29, 2012, on his blog,.
December 11, 2012This was a corner room on the floor just below the children’s, and the beauty of it was this window—an oriel window,—projecting beyond the wall, as such windows do, and so exactly at the corner that you could see, so to say, three ways at once when you were standing in it . . . a charming watch tower.”
December 04, 2012I have always been struck, while reading Anna Karenina (or, more recently, while watching Leo Tolstoy’s 1873-1878 tale played out by Jude Law and Keira Knightley in sumptuous costumes in this year’s film version) by the similarities it shows between upper-class late 19th-century Russia and late 19th-century America.
November 19, 2012This Herter Brothers dining table is a significant piece in our collection, for its beauty as well as its history.
November 14, 2012Typically (and stereotypically), the Gilded Age is known for: 1) Money and industry, and 2) People who made a lot of money in industry.
November 06, 2012The White House’s first work of art was acquired in 1800. It was a painting, and it depicted, perhaps not surprisingly, that most beloved forefather of forefathers, George Washington.
October 29, 2012One might be surprised to discover a giant black spider attacking a Gilded Age fine and decorative arts museum. But yes, at the corner of Erie and Wabash, a colossal arachnid is navigating the exterior of the historic Nickerson Mansion.
October 25, 2012Last week the Driehaus Museum welcomed Anna Tobin D’Ambrosio, director and chief curator at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute in Utica, New York, and the final lecturer of the 2012 Nickerson Lecture Series season.
October 22, 2012Next week 119 years ago, with a crisp chill entering the air, the closing ceremonies concluded, the crowds began piling into Pullman cars to head back to their own parts of America, and the World Columbian Exposition’s dismantling began.
October 15, 2012The woman The Wire called a “bassoon colossus” treated us and our visitors here on Saturday to live performances of a work inspired by the Driehaus Museum’s unique architecture and history.
October 10, 2012On the morning of October 10, 1871, the flames had finally stopped. What was left was, well, hardly anything. About a four-mile swath had been cleared in two days, everything was in ruins, and the conflagration would go down in history books as an infamous disaster for this new, bustling city: the Great Chicago Fire.
October 04, 2012You Asked… Didn’t the Nickerson Mansion used to be black? And how did conservationists manage to clean the exterior?
September 24, 2012This year marks the 150th birthday of Edith Wharton, and Dr. Caroline Hellman—associate professor of English in New York—graciously accepted our invitation to speak about the writer and interior designer for our Samuel M. Nickerson Lecture Series.
September 18, 2012The Driehaus Museum has three sister institutions in Europe, each simply resplendent and embodying the highest ideals of preservation and classical architecture, just as we strive to do here in Chicago.
September 10, 2012On Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14, the Driehaus Museum will open its doors and offer free self-guided admission as just one of 150 participants in Open House Chicago 2012.
August 28, 2012Ah, Lincoln Park. Here, leafy trees offer dappled shade to quaint, historic residential buildings aligned in cozy, shoulder-to-shoulder rows.
August 07, 2012The land allotted for Graceland Cemetery in 1860 was well above Chicago’s northernmost dotted line, by about two miles: a suburban ‘new city of the dead,’ as they called it. (The recently-exhumed Lincoln Park being the ‘old’ city of the dead in that scenario.)
July 23, 2012The Chicago Architecture Foundation celebrates Chicago architecture with such a wide reach that we couldn’t resist giving our members the chance to enjoy what the nonprofit has to offer. So all of our members get a Buy One, Get One Free Walking Tour benefit to use with CAF.
July 16, 2012There is this great line in the book Great Houses of Chicago, 1871-1921, which I lugged from the shelf in search of insights on the popularity of conservatories during the Gilded Age. It begins, “The Victorians were notorious for collecting…”—and that’s a perfect enough start.
July 12, 2012“Today, the most famous name in American stained glass is Louis Comfort Tiffany. It was not always so. At the end of the nineteenth century, many other American stained glass studios, artists and craftsmen—several of them based in Chicago—had developed a revolutionary approach to stained glass: no paint.”
July 09, 2012John Gardner Low was a ceramics artist of about 41 when he approached the crowded exhibitions in Philadelphia at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. He was a Massachusetts man and had traveled far, like the millions of others, to see the first U.S. world’s fair.
June 29, 2012The Fourth didn’t become a federal holiday until 1941, but America has been celebrating it since the signatures went down on the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Looking back at a Gilded Age’s worth of Fourth of July celebrations in Chicago, here are some of best (and some of the worst) moments between the Civil and First World Wars.
June 25, 2012On permanent display in the Driehaus Museum are a number of decorative objects—an artistic silver punch bowl by Tiffany & Company; a painting of the Administration Building; and even a trio of Japanese bronzes, souvenirs purchased by the Nickerson family that originally occupied this mansion—that come exclusively from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.