$1M Gift Underwrites The Renaissance Society's Publications Program

The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago announced today that it has received a $1M gift from Joe and Rika Mansueto—the largest in the society's 104-year history—to underwrite the Ren's publications program for the next 10 years. 

Solveig Øvstebø, Executive Director of the Renaissance Society, announced the establishment of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Publications Program following the $1 million pledge from the Chicago-based founder of Morningstar and his wife. This transformative gift secures the independent contemporary art museum’s publishing activities for the next 10 years and marks the largest single commitment in its 104-year history.

Anna Searle Jones, Director of Communications, shared, "This major gift is not only transformative for the Ren, but significant in the philanthropic landscape for its commitment to the depth and substance of our work."

Known around the world for its remarkable support of artists, the Renaissance Society has established itself as a unique platform for ground-breaking creative experimentation and deep inquiry. Publishing has been at the core of the institution’s activity since its founding in 1915, and it has produced significant exhibitions and accompanying publications with artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Mike Kelley, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Kerry James Marshall, and Jennifer Packer. Distributed internationally, the museum’s books often offer the first scholarly reflections on artists' projects and capture pivotal moments in their careers.

Solveig Øvstebø, Executive Director of the Renaissance Society

"The Renaissance Society is driven by an unwavering faith in artists and their ideas. We support them to produce new art and, with it, new knowledge, new discourse, and new ways of thinking.” says Øvstebø. “Nowhere is this more evident than in our books, and the Joe and Rika Mansueto Publications Program provides long-term resources to continue to produce and share more broadly this important work."

“The Ren’s publications not only document the exhibitions, but expand the critical conversations that begin with them, and enter them into the art historical record. We are deeply grateful to Joe and Rika for their generous gift, which ensures the continued significance of the museum's output," added Richard Wright, President of the Board of Directors.

The Mansuetos’ donation follows the success of the Renaissance Society’s Next Century Fund, a $5 million campaign launched in conjunction with the museum’s 100th anniversary in 2015. With lead gifts from the Edlis Neeson Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and the Zell Family Foundation, this fund has enabled a significant increase in the production of new artworks by artists including Kevin Beasley, B. Ingrid Olson, and Shadi Habib Allah, and accompanying public programs.

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Publications Program will make it possible for the Renaissance Society to publish a monograph, catalogue, or artist book to accompany each exhibition, typically four per year. These funds will also enable the museum to commission more contributors per book, and to work with a wider range of designers and printers to produce them.

Recent Renaissance Society publications include: 

  • Let me consider it from here (2019), featuring new poems from Geoffrey G. O'Brien, Simone White, and Lynn Xu
  • Sadie Benning: Shared Eye (2018), with texts from Julie Ault, John Corbett, and Christine Mehring
  • Richard Rezac: Address (2018), with new essays from Matthew Goulish, Jennifer R. Gross, and James Rondeau
  • Robert Grosvenor (2018), with contributions from Yve-Alain Bois, Bruce Hainley, Susan Howe, and John Yau
  • Jennifer Packer: Tenderheaded (2018) featuring a conversation between the artist and Kerry James Marshall, essays by Jessica Bell Brown and April Freely, and a poem by Safiya Sinclair.

Forthcoming titles include:

  • Alejandro Cesarco: Song (2019), with new texts by Julie Ault and Wayne Koestenbaum
  • Liz Magor: BLOWOUT (2019), including new essays by Sheila Heti and Mitch Speed
  • Unthought Environments (2019), featuring contributions from Ina Blom, Keller Easterling, and John Durham Peters
  • LaToya Ruby Frazier (2019)



For over 100 years, the Renaissance Society has been at the forefront of presenting vital artistic practices from around the world. The original intentions of the Renaissance Society still ring true: to present art that engages with key questions of our times, to support ambitious experimentation, and to provide a rich interdisciplinary context for discovering and discussing visual art. Today “the Ren”—as it is affectionately known—is committed to supporting ambitious artistic experimentation, primarily through the commissioning of new works. In addition to the exhibition and publishing programs, the independent, non-collecting museum hosts lectures, concerts, performances, screenings, and readings.

All of the Renaissance Society’s exhibitions and events are free and open to the public. 


Top image: Renaissance Society publications. Photo: Useful Art Services