Richard H Driehaus Museum

40 E Erie St Chicago

Chicago/State Red Line Stop/Richard H Driehaus Museum
Chicago Scene
Written By Chicago Scene

“The Insider's Guide” Of Where To Go And What To Do In Chicago

The Richard H Driehaus Museum is housed in what used to be Samuel and Matilda Nickerson’s home—Samuel was a renowned banker and his wife, Matilda, was a society leader. They lived in their Chicago Mansion with their son until they moved to New York City in 1900. Moving to Chicago from Massachusetts in 1858, the two had a large impact socially, industrially, and civically in the Windy City. They donated their art collection to the Art Institute of Chicago, Samuel contributed to the Chicago City railway company and First National Bank, helped the economy after the Great Chicago Fire, and held lavish parties at their home. The Richard H Driehaus Museum is actually the Nickerson's second house in Chicago as their first one made of wood burned down in 1871.

Their 3-story mansion was built by the architectural firm Burling and Whitehouse and was of course built as an innovative fire-proof house. After the Nickersons moved out, the building was sold to the real estate mogul Lucius George Fisher who renovated it to include a trophy room, lion-motif carvings, a beautiful stained-glass dome, and a monumental fireplace. After Fisher's daughter's family moved out of the mansion, the building was bought by more than 100 Chicagoans in 1919 to preserve it. It ended up being donated to the American College of Surgeons who used it as their headquarters until 1963. 13 years later, the marble palace was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus sponsored the building's restoration from 2003-2008 and turned it into a museum named after him. After the renovation was complete, the building won a Chicago Landmark Award for Preservation Excellence. Driehaus had the museum take a gilded age approach with many of his arts (Tiffany glass especially) and temporary exhibitions, which helped bring it back to life.

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Just steps from the Magnificent Mile and many other attractions in River North, the Richard H. Driehaus Museum features temporary collections and exhibitions year-round. Some of those include the Tiffany Glass Candelabrum, Checkering and Sons Grand Piano, and the Twenty-Four Light Chandelier. The Marble Palace still stands today on Eerie street as the Driehaus Museum and, since it was well-preserved, it is a good example of the Aesthetic Movement in the Gilded Age. It attracts a wide variety of audiences and continues to reflect Chicago’s history and culture. Tickets range from $10-20 depending on age and can be purchased online or at the door.

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