Press Releases

Chicago History Museum Explores the Work of Vivian Maier in Newest Exhibition

Mar 25 2021

The Chicago History Museum is featuring a collection of many never-before seen works by world-renown photographer Vivian Maier in an upcoming exhibition, Vivian Maier: In Color, opening to the public May 8, 2021.

“The Chicago History Museum is committed to sharing Chicago stories, and Vivian Maier’s work represents her private contributions to the documentation and representation of culture found within city life,” said Charles E. Bethea, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs. “Maier’s photography brings a glimpse of Chicago and its residents to life between the 1950s to the 1970s, allowing present day visitors the opportunity to reflect on the striking parallels it has to today’s society.”

Maier worked as a nanny to several Chicago families and took extensive photos, documenting intimate moments of the city and its people. Vivian Maier: In Color will illuminate Maier’s unique portfolio. While her focus of attention varied, she approached all of her work with unwavering confidence, revealing parallels, intersections and tensions.

Following her death in 2009, Maier’s prolific photographs previously discovered in her abandoned storage locker were first displayed for the public. Maier rose to posthumous international acclaim for her photography that expertly documented the people, landscapes, light, and development of New York, her hometown, and Chicago where she settled, 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 around the world, including one on display at the Chicago History Museum from 2012-2017, Vivian Maier’s Chicago.

To underscore her accomplished photography, Vivian Maier: In Color will feature more than 65 color images from the 1950s-1970s, most of which have never been seen, from art collectors Jeffrey Goldstein, John Maloof, and Ron Slattery. It is the first time the work in these three collections have been featured together in one exhibition. The exhibition will also include clips from film, made by Maier, and a series of sound bites and quotes featuring Maier’s voice.

“Vivian Maier’s photographs show moments of what looks to be a dynamic, multifaceted life in which she prioritized her passion for taking pictures,” said Frances Dorenbaum, curator of Vivian Maier: In Color. “Her dedication to photography is what makes her work so prolific today, and the Chicago History Museum is thrilled to share her voice with the public and celebrate a once unknown artist.”

The exhibition comes after the Chicago History Museum last year acquired nearly 1,800 Vivian Maier color slides, negatives and transparencies from Chicago-based artist and art collector Jeffrey Goldstein. The collection primarily depicts people and scenes in Chicago from the 1950s-1970s. The museum worked closely with Goldstein and Vivian Maier’s 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 on the Museum’s image portal.

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, collections access and interpretive digital output such as blog posts and an online exhibition.

To learn more about Vivian Maier: In Color and associated programs, please visit:


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