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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 is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers. Established in 1856, the Museum is now at 1601 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park, its third location. As a major museum and research center for Chicago and U.S. history, the Chicago History Museum strives to be a destination for learning, inspiration and civic engagement. Through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming, the Museum connects people to Chicago’s history and to each other. To share Chicago stories, the Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents, images and other items that are relevant to the city’s history. The Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. 

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories