CHM will be open on Monday, July 4 more

Chicago History Museum Acquires Collection of Vivian Maier Color Material


© The Estate of Vivian Maier |

Nearly 1,800 images from Maier’s celebrated work to be made available to the public, highlighted in upcoming exhibition.

The Chicago History Museum today announced the acquisition of nearly 1,800 Vivian Maier color slides, negatives and transparencies. The collection consists primarily of color slides and transparencies depicting people and scenes in Chicago from the 1950s-1970s. The museum worked closely with Chicago-based artist and art collector Jeff Goldstein and the Vivian Maier Estate to accept a donation of photographs and preserve them for public use. The acquisition gives the public access to many never-before-seen images, all of which will be made available by early 2021 on the museum’s image portal. To highlight this important acquisition, images from the Museum’s collection and other loaned pieces of Maier’s work will be on display at the Museum in an upcoming exhibition, opening late Spring 2021.

“The Chicago History Museum is committed to sharing Chicago stories, and preserving Vivian Maier’s renowned work to make it available to the public aligns directly with our mission,” said Gary T. Johnson, president of the Chicago History Museum. “Maier’s photographs bring Chicago and its residents to life, drawing striking parallels to today’s social and political landscape. We are honored to have her work in our collection.”

During her life, Maier was a beloved nanny to a Chicago family and took extensive photos around the city, capturing intimate and mundane moments of people and places. Following her death in 2009, the discovery of her abandoned storage locker revealed her prolific, ingenious photographs. Maier rose to posthumous international acclaim for her photography that expertly captured Chicago and its people, landscapes, light and development, with remarkable attention to detail. Maier’s work is now used widely in research and curriculum and has been celebrated in at least 42 exhibitions, including one on display at the Chicago History Museum from 2012-2017, Vivian Maier’s Chicago.

The Chicago History Museum received a grant from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation to process the Vivian Maier collection. The grant promotes long term preservation, labeling, and creating access tools for the collection, metadata creation and digital output such as blog posts and an online exhibition. Processing of the collection is ongoing.


The Chicago History Museum, a major museum and research center for Chicago and American history, is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. The Museum has dedicated more than a century to celebrating and sharing Chicago stories through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming. The Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents and images to help audiences connect to the city and its history. The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum is a 2016 winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest award given to these institutions for their community engagement and having an impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories