Chicago’s Floating Museum launches latest public art initiative: Cultural Transit Assembly

Founders, 2019, installed in Hadiya Pendleton Park, photo courtesy of Floating Museum

By CGN Staff via PR

Last week the Floating Museum collective unveiled its latest public art initiative, Cultural Transit Assembly, which turns the CTA Green Line into a moving cultural destination and activates Chicago neighborhoods along from Austin to Englewood, throughout the summer, culminating at Art EXPO September 19-22, 2019.  

In 2017 the Floating Museum perched on a barge that literally floated down the Chicago River in order to highlight specific areas of the city and, in the organizers' own words, “create temporary, site-responsive museum spaces to activate sites of cultural potential throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods”. 

The robust roster of Cultural Transit Assembly programming – all free and open to the public – includes a series of Chicago artist exhibitions in Austin Town Hall Park and Garfield Park and a gigantic inflatable sculpture paying tribute to the City’s founders, which will be stationed next to the Green Line in a new location every Wednesday. 

Connecting the sites, a two-car ‘L’ train is currently traveling the Green Line route featuring custom artwork commemorating Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, Chicago’s first non-indigenous settler, and his wife Kitihawa from the Potawatomi tribe. Later this summer, lunchtime music and poetry performances will pop up on the cars.

“Thanks to our collaborators, the CTA and the Chicago Park District, Floating Museum is transforming the Green Line into a moving cultural destination,” said Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford co-director of Floating Museum, along with Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman, and Avery R. Young.  “Following up on our River Assembly project on the Chicago River in 2017, we’re now utilizing Chicago’s public transit system – and this line in particular that travels through southside and westside communities - to both celebrate the important cultural work being done in these neighborhoods as well as strengthen the ties between these spaces.  And it is worth noting that some 50+ local artists have been commissioned (i.e. paid!) to lend their visual art and spoken word talents to Cultural Transit Assembly.”  


Cultural Transit Assembly elements: 

Currently underway:

• Green Line ‘South Branch’ features a gigantic roving, 25 x 35 x 34’ inflatable sculpture titled Founders, featuring four busts facing the four cardinal directions.  Featuring a mix of interpretations of items from the DuSable Museum of African American History and the Field Museum collections, the busts represent du Sable; his wife, Kitihawa; Harold Washington (the first African American Mayor of Chicago); and a bust of a young boy by artist William Artis.   Founders is popping up weekly thru September 11 in community spaces adjacent to the Green Line from Austin to Englewood and can be viewed both by CTA riders and those at ground level. For this installation, Floating Museum worked with the Field Museum and its Potawatami textile collection, in addition to collaborating with contemporary Native American artists Chris Pappan (Kanza, Osage, Cheyenne River Sioux) and Monica Rickert-Bolter (Potawatomi).

• Then, expanding the Cultural Transit Assembly message to an international audience, the final destination for Founders will be ArtEXPO at Navy Pier, installed at the Fair entrance, Sept 19-22, 2019.

• Green Line Train Car ‘Soul EL’ is currently in regular service on the Green Line and incorporates two train car ‘art galleries’ dedicated to DuSable and his wife, Kitihawa.  Visual artists include Pappan and Rickert-Bolter, plus Adam Sings In The Timber (Crow) Elise Paschen (Osage), Santiago X (Koasati/Chamoru), Debra Yepa-Pappan (Jemez Pueblo, Korean), Arthur Wright, Brandon Breaux, Robert Johnson, Nyia Sissac, Max Sansing, and Joyce Owens.   As curated by Avery R. Young, local performing artists will also reflect on founding stories and have envisioned the founders with artwork covering the cars’ exterior and interior. ‘Soul EL’ is inspired by the American television series Soul Train that merged music, dance and fashion; stay tuned for pop-up music and poetry performances on the ‘Soul EL’ in the coming weeks.


Coming soon...

Chicago artists were asked to submit work in response to prose written by Avery R. Young that focused on the 1968 Democratic National Convention and riots throughout the city’s west side.  Selections were made based on the quality of the submissions with a focus on including women and artists of color as well as artists who had a strong connection to the areas.  Those works will appear in two locations:   

• Green Line ‘Central’ will feature a field of sculptures on pedestals for the green space in front of Austin Town Hall adjacent to the Central Green Line stop. The sculptures are 3D printed ceramic reproductions of works by Chicago artists Ayanah Moor, Derrick Woods-Morrow, Elizabeth Barren, Juan Angel-Chavez, Kushala Vora, Rhonda Wheatley, Ricky Willis, Rodrigo Lara Zendejas, Santiago X (Koasati/Chamoru), and Tony Lewis.

• Green Line ‘Conservatory’ re-imagines civic sign infrastructure as artwork and creative language through new interpretations of common street signs, such as Stop and Yield.  Signage will be installed adjacent to the Conservatory/Central Park Drive Green Line stop. Participating Chicago artists include Aram Han Sifuentes, Ishita Dharap, Caroline Kent, Carris Adams, Chris Pappen, Darryl DeAngelo Terrell, Candace Hunter, Dayo Laoye, Emilio Rojas, Esau Mchgee, Kellie Romany, Natasha Kohli, Paul S. Benjamin, Sherwin Ovid, Shirley Hudson, and Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke (Crow)


The Cultural Transit Assembly project is partially supported by ComEd, Indiana University’s New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Program, the Field Foundation, the Terra Foundation as part of Art Design Chicago and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. 

All Floating Museum programs including Cultural Transit Assembly are free and open to the public; for more information visit


Read about the 2017 Floating Museum here

Read CGN's 2017 profile with co-founder Faheem Majeed here