A Decade Devoted to the Gilded Age: The Richard H. Driehaus Museum Makes Its Own History

Ten years ago philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus's namesake museum opened with a mission to explore the art, architecture, and design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a focus on the Gilded Age. The Museum, located within the meticulously restored 1883 Nickerson Mansion, was Gilded Age Chicago’s “Marble Palace.” Period pieces from the Driehaus Collection, rotating exhibitions and cultural programs further illuminate the era.

It's not often that a new museum opens in Chicago, and the Driehaus quickly established itself as a unique addition to Chicago's cultural community. What at first was a restored jewel box that made the case for historic preservation in the heart of one of the world's centers for modern architecture, eventually matured into an immersive visual time machine.

Visitors to the museum, hidden just off of the city's busiest tourist highway, the Magnificent Mile, are able to experience another era as soon as they climb the museum's limestone steps and enter its stained glass doors. As they climb three levels of carpeted stairs and wander room to room they behold countless prime examples of furniture and decoration from the 19th century. Today the Driehaus's line up of period-relevant exhibitions provides additional context as well as opportunities to visit again and again. 

Several special events taking place this fall celebrate the museum's 10 year anniversary in 2018

– GV



The Driehaus Museum’s Board of Trustees will host its first black tie gala this fall, in celebration of the museum’s 10th anniversary in 2018 and to honor Chicago architect, preservationist, and sustainable designer, Joseph Antunovich. September 13, 6–9pm. The museum's special auction offerings may be previewed online. Highlights include a 5 day/4 night stay at Richard H. Driehaus’ La Quinta, California Home, and a dinner for up to 10 at the Driehaus Museum with 5-Course Menu Created by Season 15 Top Chef Winner Joe Flamm, including Wine Pairings.



This exhibition, organized by the New York Historical Society, looks at the popular revival of portraiture in America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and contains portraits of socially prominent Americans by artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Rembrandt Peale, John Singer Sargent, Eastman Johnson, and William Adolphe Bouguereau. September 8–January 6

Gilded Chicago: Portraits of an Era

The companion exhibition to Beauty’s Legacy, this intimate gallery comprised of ten paintings will focus on prominent Gilded Age Chicagoans, such as McCormick, Field, Pullman, and the portraits they commissioned. September 8–January 6


Treasures from the White City: Chicago World’s Fair of 1893

An exhibition featuring designs by Louis Comfort Tiffany, substantial silver pieces by Gorham Manufacturing and Tiffany Studios, as well as fair memorabilia. The Nickerson Mansion, home of the Driehaus Museum and this exhibition, hosted a reception in 1893 to celebrate the fair. September 8–January 6


The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, 40 E. Erie, Chicago • www.driehausmuseum.org


Top image: The stained glass dome in the Sculpture Gallery (ca. 1900), detail. Photo by Alexander Vertikoff, 2011