April 7, 2018–August 10, 2019

About the Exhibition

Southern black migrants brought the blues to Chicago, where the music helped them forge connections and transform an unfamiliar, often inhospitable city into a new home. The music was also transformed—electrified and amplified 

to compete with urban noise. The photography of Raeburn Flerlage captures the streets, clubs, homes, and studios where a community of musicians defined the Chicago blues sound.  Immerse yourself in the Chicago scene of the 1960s through Flerlage’s images, and experience the blues by playing guitar, designing an album cover, writing lyrics, and singing karaoke.

The most recognizable cultural signature this city has produced, Chicago blues has diverse and contradictory roots: African American migration from the South and the growth of the modern music industry; regional folk genius and ethnic entrepreneurial savvy.  Through Amplified: Chicago blues, meet some of the originators and pioneers of the Chicago Blues sound, including. 

Artist Spotlights

Howlin Wolf, Little Brother Montgomery, 

Little Walter, Magic Sam, Big Joe Williams, 

Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor & Muddy Waters

Upcoming Programming

Civic Talk: Chicago Blues

Blues Bus 


April 18 | 6:30PM

May 12 | 1:00PM

Delve into the stories behind Amplified with its curator Joy L. Bivins and legendary blues musician Billy Branch.

Explore Bronzeville & the South Side to discover how  the Delta blues came to Chicago during the Great Migration and evolved into its own distinct sound.

Bringing a group?

Let us help you plan.

Special discounted group rates are available. 

Call 312-799-2162 or email [email protected] for more information. 

Learn more

This collection is now accessible to the public through the Museum’s Research Center, which holds the Museum’s archives, manuscripts, prints and photographs and more. A curated collection of more than 1,000 of Raeburn Flerlage’s photography is available online at Chicago History Museum Images.

Access the Collection




Members also receive complimentary admission to our exclusive members-only exhibition preview event!

Exhibition Sponsors

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