On Saturday, April 25, 2015, MAS Context organized a visit to the Ryerson & Burnham Archives located at the Art Institute of Chicago. Mary Woolever, Art and Architecture archivist, and Nathaniel Parks, assistant archivist, provided an overview of their archival work, as well as highlight key and rare works from the collections. They also discussed the influential Chicago Architects Oral History Project, a collection of oral histories that, since 1983, has been documenting the contributions of architects to Chicago during the twentieth-century.
The Ryerson & Burnham Archives’ collections are notably strong in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century American architecture, with particular depth in midwestern architecture. Architects such as Edward Bennett, Daniel Burnham, Bruce Goff, Bertrand Goldberg, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Mies van der Rohe, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright are represented in a broad range of papers. Major architectural events, such as the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, The Century of Progress International Exposition of 1933–1934 in Chicago, and the World’s Fair of 1939 in New York, are also represented in an individual archive.