Back to All Events

Lofty Ambition: Charles L. Hutchinson and the Making of the Art Institute

  • Glessner House Museum 1800 South Prairie Avenue Chicago, IL, 60616 United States (map)

Established in 1879 from the remnants of a foundering art academy, Chicago’s first distinguished museum grew into a sturdy institution largely through the efforts of Charles L. Hutchinson, who served as its president from 1882 until his death in 1924.  A son of Prairie Avenue and a leading banker, he might have devoted his life to building a great personal fortune.  Instead, as a friend observed, “He had a loftier ambition than accumulating millions.”

At a time when Chicago’s burgeoning commercial might could not obscure its reputation as a cultural hinterland, Hutchinson established the foundation of a great art museum.  He assembled the necessary financing, secured a spectacular lakefront site, and guided the early development of the Art Institute’s now celebrated collections.  Through an enlightened exhibition program, he introduced Chicago to a universe of artistic riches. 

Author and cultural historian Celia Hilliard will review the public and private life of this influential citizen who did much to educate and elevate local taste and promote Chicago’s emergence as a world city.

This is the fourth in a series of four lectures being presented in 2018 as partner programs with Art Design Chicago, a citywide celebration of the city's art and design legacy spearheaded by the Terra Foundation.  To learn more, visit  

$10 per person / $8 for members

Purchase Tickets