Abakanowicz Research Center

The Abakanowicz Research Center requires visitors to wear masks. We thank you in advance for helping us maintain a safe environment for staff and visitors. Learn more about the Museum’s safety policies and procedures.

Summer Hours

May 28–August 30: Tuesday–Friday, 12:00–3:30 p.m.
Closed: Thursday, July 4

The Abakanowicz Research Center (ARC) holds the Research Collections of the Chicago History Museum, which comprise printed material, archives and manuscripts, prints and photographs, architectural drawings, and assorted ephemera.

Admission to the ARC is free. Reservations are not required. Children under 6 will not be admitted. Please note that masks are still required.

We encourage you to email research@chicagohistory.org to ensure that an on-site visit is best for your needs. If you have identified items that need advance request, please email us at research@chicagohistory.org

Policies and Technology

Much of our material is fragile; please respect the following policies:

  • Pencils only
  • Cell phones silent
  • No food, drink, or gum

We have 6 PCs in the ARC with access to our online resources: the ARCHIE catalog, historical Chicago Tribune and Chicago Defender database, Sanborn Maps, and more!

Have a laptop or tablet? Wi-Fi is available; please ask for the password at the reference desk.

Before You Visit

When you check in at the Museum’s Ticket Desk, you will be asked to:

  • Present a valid driver’s license, state-issued identification card, or passport
  • Check coats, backpacks, and oversized bags in the Museum’s free coat check. The ARC has free lockers available for purses.

Helpful links:

  • Guide to the Abakanowicz Research Center: An in-depth guide to the Chicago History Museum’s Abakanowicz Research Center, including hours, access, policies, subject guides, and other useful resources.
  • ARCHIE Online Catalog: Search ARCHIE for information on the Museum’s holdings that are served through the ARC. Materials described in ARCHIE include manuscripts; books and periodicals; and photographic materials. Please note that while this resource is extensive, it is not exhaustive.
MSU-NU-ARC-Visit-2023

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Abakanowicz Research Center?

The Chicago History Museum’s Abakanowicz Research Center is one of the premier research facilities in Chicago, and it carries on the tradition of serving the public the Chicago Historical Society established with its founding in 1856. The Gilpin Library, which opened as part of the Society’s new building designed by architect Henry Ives Cobb in 1896 at Dearborn and Ontario Streets, provided the public with an up-to-date research facility. The Society moved to its current location in Lincoln Park in 1932 into a building designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White featuring a museum and a library. In the early 2000s, the multiple reading rooms dedicated to specific collections were consolidated into the CHM Research Center.

In 2021, it was renamed and dedicated as the Abakanowicz Research Center after sculptor and artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. The naming acknowledges her commitment to truth and diversity in history and her deep association with the city of Chicago, where she is best known for her public work, Agora (2006), in Grant Park. The Archie Motley Reading Room of the Abakanowicz Research Center is named in honor of Archibald Motley, who was a staff member from 1955 to 2002 and served legions of researchers as the Museum’s archivist (1974–98).

Visitors to the Abakanowicz Research Center include authors; educators; independent scholars; photo researchers; members of the press; elementary and secondary school students (especially History Fair students); undergraduate and graduate students, including PhD candidates; architects; building developers; and family and house historians.

Who can visit the Abakanowicz Research Center?

We are pleased to welcome authors; university and college teachers; independent scholars; photo researchers; members of the press; elementary and secondary school students; undergraduate and graduate students, including PhD candidates; architects; building developers; and family and house historians, among many others. Children under 6 will not be admitted.

How do I page materials?

The majority of our collections are housed outside of the Abakanowicz Research Center. See the Abakanowicz Research Center Guide for more details. Call slips are available on each table and should be filled out as completely as possible so that staff can retrieve the material. Material will not be paged after 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Some material, including color photographs, must be requested at least 48 hours in advance; a note in the catalog record will alert you to this type of restriction. Most of our material is fragile, so please respect the following policies: Pencils only. No food, drink, or gum.

Can I make photocopies or take pictures?

Photocopying Fees
$.50/page
$.25/page for History Fair students
Please note: Photocopies will not be made of city directories, newspapers, scrapbooks, maps, color photographs, and original photographs created prior to 1900. Depending on demand, photocopies may not be available for same-day pick up.

Camera Use Policy
Researchers may photograph most Abakanowicz Research Center material. If you wish to use your camera, please notify an ARC staff member upon arrival. By registering, you agree to our Camera Use Policy.

What if I'm unable to visit the Abakanowicz Research Center?
If you are unable to visit us in person, there are a number of options available:
What is the Abakanowicz Research Center?

The Chicago History Museum’s Abakanowicz Research Center is one of the premier research facilities in Chicago, and it carries on the tradition of serving the public the Chicago Historical Society established with its founding in 1856. The Gilpin Library, which opened as part of the Society’s new building designed by architect Henry Ives Cobb in 1896 at Dearborn and Ontario Streets, provided the public with an up-to-date research facility. The Society moved to its current location in Lincoln Park in 1932 into a building designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White featuring a museum and a library. In the early 2000s, the multiple reading rooms dedicated to specific collections were consolidated into the CHM Research Center.

In 2021, it was renamed and dedicated as the Abakanowicz Research Center after sculptor and artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. The naming acknowledges her commitment to truth and diversity in history and her deep association with the city of Chicago, where she is best known for her public work, Agora (2006), in Grant Park. The Archie Motley Reading Room of the Abakanowicz Research Center is named in honor of Archibald Motley, who was a staff member from 1955 to 2002 and served legions of researchers as the Museum’s archivist (1974–98).

Visitors to the Abakanowicz Research Center include authors; educators; independent scholars; photo researchers; members of the press; elementary and secondary school students (especially History Fair students); undergraduate and graduate students, including PhD candidates; architects; building developers; and family and house historians.

Who can visit the Abakanowicz Research Center?

We are pleased to welcome authors; university and college teachers; independent scholars; photo researchers; members of the press; elementary and secondary school students; undergraduate and graduate students, including PhD candidates; architects; building developers; and family and house historians, among many others. Children under 6 will not be admitted.

How do I page materials?

The majority of our collections are housed outside of the Abakanowicz Research Center. See the Abakanowicz Research Center Guide for more details. Call slips are available on each table and should be filled out as completely as possible so that staff can retrieve the material. Material will not be paged after 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Some material, including color photographs, must be requested at least 48 hours in advance; a note in the catalog record will alert you to this type of restriction. Most of our material is fragile, so please respect the following policies: Pencils only. No food, drink, or gum.

Can I make photocopies or take pictures?

Photocopying Fees
$.50/page
$.25/page for History Fair students
Please note: Photocopies will not be made of city directories, newspapers, scrapbooks, maps, color photographs, and original photographs created prior to 1900. Depending on demand, photocopies may not be available for same-day pick up.

Camera Use Policy
Researchers may photograph most Abakanowicz Research Center material. If you wish to use your camera, please notify an ARC staff member upon arrival. By registering, you agree to our Camera Use Policy.

What if I'm unable to visit the Abakanowicz Research Center?
If you are unable to visit us in person, there are a number of options available:

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