Music, games open Hull-House ‘Right to Play’ exhibit

Chilren at the Hull-House playground.

Children on the Hull-House playground. Photo: Jane Addams Memorial Collection, UIC Library

The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum celebrates May Day Thursday with the opening of a new multimedia exhibit, “Unfinished Business: The Right to Play,” on view through 2015.

When Hull-House opened Chicago’s first public playground in 1895, the Chicago Tribune called it “a jolly romp.”

Likewise, the opening of “The Right to Play” will be a lively affair. Along with the exhibit, visitors can enjoy food trucks, field games, music by DJ Sound Culture and Queen Nzinga’s Brigade and performances by the Jesse White Tumbling Team and other youth ensembles. A detailed schedule appears on the museum’s website.

The exhibit explores the social movements that led to public playgrounds, the eight-hour workday and the principle that time off from work brings a more compassionate, creative and peaceful world.

The latest installation in the museum’s “Unfinished Business” series, “The Right to Play” connects history with the present, bringing collaborations with artists and activists who continue to fight for fairer conditions for work and leisure.

Highlights include:

“Eight Hour” songs: in partnership with the Chicago music club the Hideout, the Studs Terkel Festival and the Logan Center at the University of Chicago, the museum invited five local bands to reimagine labor songs. The recordings feature new and old versions by Che “Rhymefest” Smith, Frank Orrall, Sally Timms & Janet Bean, JC Brooks and Psalm One & Fluffy. (Bands will not perform live.)

“Freedom and Time,” a Prison Neighborhood Arts Project Collaboration: animated works by artists incarcerated at Stateville Prison who spent a semester exploring freedom, play and time with teaching artist Damon Locks.

“Another World Is Possible”: The eight-hour workday movement called for “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what we will.” Activists and thinkers imagine ways to structure economies that allow people to experience their full humanity.

“Freedom Dreams”: activists and community members consider, “What is freedom? When have you felt the most free?” Their responses will hang in the exhibit for visitors to read and contemplate.

● “Jolly Romp”: take a swing on a kinetic sculpture by the Stockyard Institute’s Jim Duignan.

“Right to Play” zine: learn why Hull-House reformers thought play was a crucial component of social change and try out some of their favorite games.

Admission to the Hull-House Museum is free.  It is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. “The Right to Play” exhibit is located on the museum’s second floor, and wheelchair access is not available.

For more information, call 312-413-5353.