A Vivian Maier Mystery Solved
As a young girl, Rev. Christine V. Hides loved to read and dreamed of solving mysteries. Now Hides has helped the Chicago History Museum solve one. After visiting the Vivian Maier: In Color exhibition, she identified the location where Vivian Maier took a photograph after recognizing two stained glass windows in an image.
Rev. Christine V. Hides stands by the windows at the Kenilworth Union Church that appear in Maier’s photograph. Photograph by Eric Miller, 2022.
Hides, who serves as associate minister at Kenilworth Union Church, noticed the detail when viewing a photograph that showed people in a church hall. “I was so excited when I saw this image,” Hides recalled, “because the windows in the photo looked similar to two stained glass windows in our church designed by renowned glass artist Henry Lee Willet.”
People in a church hall, October 1974. The back wall appears different due to renovations to the church after the photograph was taken. CHM, ICHi-181323 / © The Estate of Vivian Maier
When she got home, Hides confirmed that the windows were the same. Then she visited CHM Images, our image portal, where she was able to find and identify more photographs taken at Kenilworth Union Church. Based on their content, it appears that Vivian Maier had visited the church during a rummage sale.
A woman wraps up a package for a customer at a rummage sale at Kenilworth Union Church, Kenilworth, Illinois, c. 1974. A variety of nightgowns hang in the background. CHM, ICHi-181333 / © The Estate of Vivian Maier
A mirror leaning against boxes of goods at a rummage sale at Kenilworth Union Church, Kenilworth, Illinois, c. 1974. CHM, ICHi-181320 / © The Estate of Vivian Maier
Thanks to Hides’s findings, Museum staff were able to update their metadata with the location of these sets of prints. “Vivian Maier focused her lens on people rather than the building,” Hides noted. “She captured ordinary moments that show how the church is woven into the fabric of the community.”
- See Vivian Maier: In Color before it closes on Saturday, December 31
- View our Google Arts & Culture story Vivian Maier: Her Chicago
- Peruse images from CHM’s Vivian Maier photography collection, which comprises about 1,800 color negatives and transparencies
- Read the Chicago History magazine article “Looking Again” by Frances Dorenbaum, guest curator of Vivian Maier: In Color
I’ve enjoyed Vivian Meier photographs for years. Loved this article. She photographed people of all ages and circumstances. She was definitely an amazing historian!