Chicago activists in the 1960s and ’70s used design to create powerful slogans, symbols, and imagery to amplify their visions for social change. In Designing for Change: Chicago Protest Art of the 1960s–70s, see more than 100 posters, fliers, signs, buttons, newspapers, magazines, and books from the era, expressing often radical ideas about race, war, gender equality, and sexuality that challenged mainstream culture of the time.

As racism, war, gender inequality, and LGBTQIA+ discrimination remain enduring issues shaped by today’s complex world, also see works from a new generation of artivists upholding the city’s rich legacy of protest art to fight for social change.


Exhibition Preview

Open-housing march near Bogan High School Open-housing march near Bogan High School in the Ashburn neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, August 12, 1966. Chicago History Museum, ICHi-077685; Declan Haun, photographer
i183000_pm Newspaper, Chicago Seed with cover depicting skull-like head of the Statue of Liberty, by Karl-Heinz Meschbach, February 1, 1970.
ST-18001901-0023, Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum Curtis Ellis, owner of a bookstore that specializes in Black literature at 6447 South Cottage Grove Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. ST-18001901-0023, Chicago Sun-Times collection, Chicago History Museum
i183506_pm Silk screen poster, Take Back the Night, by Estelle Carol, and Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective, c. 1976


Libby Mahoney Headshot
Olivia Mahoney
Guest Curator

Olivia Mahoney served for nearly four decades as a curator at the Chicago History Museum. She has written extensively on Chicago history and curated numerous exhibitions including "Chicago: Crossroads of America" and "Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America," the precursor exhibition to "Designing for Change." Since 2019, Mahoney has been a freelance curator/researcher for the Museum of Science & Industry, the Obama Presidential Center Museum, and the Chicago History Museum.

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Charles E. Bethea
Andrew W. Mellon Director of Curatorial Affairs

Charles E. Bethea is responsible for overseeing all curatorial activities, provides an overall curatorial vision and direction, and prioritizes all work in the department. In addition, he provides direction for the Museum’s collecting agenda including new acquisitions and deaccessions and the development of new exhibitions.

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