The Driehaus Museum Begins A Grand Face Lift on Neighboring Murphy Auditorium
Starting this June, the Museum will begin renovation work on the John B. Murphy Auditorium at 50 E. Erie, an important part of the Museum's campus. Upon completion in February 2024, this new project will renew 32,000 square feet of former office space to create a dynamic new Learning Center with art and maker studios, a study center with classrooms, a library and archive, redesigned office spaces, seminar rooms, and an 800-square foot outdoor terrace on the top floor.
The magnificent design of the main auditorium space on the ground floor is being restored to its original grandeur and enhanced with cutting-edge acoustics that will make it a world-class venue. The opening of the updated building will present a full suite of new programming tied to the Driehaus Museum’s strategic vision, along with a range of activities and events, both public and private, for the community. This renovation is in line with the Museum’s strategic plan to be a more active and visible part of our community.
According to Interim Driehaus Executive Director Lisa Key, “It is thrilling for us to embark upon this important renovation which will create a new Museum campus, offering visitors not only an incredible museum of art, architecture, and design, but now a newly rejuvenated auditorium that will add a vital and dynamic public space to the cultural campus in Chicago that will continue to increase the historical profile of this great city of architecture.”
The Museum will remain open during the construction, and the Murphy’s historic exterior will remain intact with the renovation work enhancing the grandeur of its soaring interior. On the main floor, the seating area will be unified by levelling the floor, and new lighting and acoustics will improve the visitors’ experience. The Museum elevator will be closed for several months at the start of the project and the Museum will be making alternative arrangements for visitors who require access during this time.
“It was a huge relief to learn about the Driehaus Museum expanding its campus into the adjacent Murphy Memorial. There are not many options for finding an appropriate re-use that would respect the historic character of such a monumentally scaled historic building while at same time providing a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhood,” said Tim Samuelson, the Cultural Historian Emeritus of the City of Chicago. “The Driehaus Museum has been a thoughtful community partner and valuable neighborhood asset for the past twenty years, and its expansion into the Murphy will make something great even greater!”
Ongoing through spring 2024, the construction will include a 14-foot-high sidewalk canopy on Erie Street, running from the alley to part of the Nickerson Mansion. The parking lane from the corner of 40 E Erie to 50 E Erie will be closed for the majority of the construction project for a staging area.
Antunovich and Associates and Bulley & Andrews, both of whom were involved in the extensive renovation of the Nickerson Mansion from 2003-2008, are the architecture and building partners for the Museum.
The Museum will be updating progress, hours, and ticketing procedures regularly via the website at www.driehausmuseum.org/construction.