Hull-House Museum Opens Free Art Lending Library

The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago has revived and elaborated on a service once offered by Addams herself — an art lending library.

Contemporary works by established artists will be lent free of charge to anyone who visits the museum, signs up, and chooses an artwork to keep for up to three months. The volunteer Hull-House Mobile Art Corps, a group experienced in handling art, will travel to borrowers’ homes around the city to install, document, and uninstall the art.

“Contemporary art is often presented as rarified — something to experience only in a museum or gallery,” says Heather Radke, project and exhibit coordinator at the museum. “The Hull-House Museum, like the Hull-House settlement before it, seeks to integrate art into the lives of all, challenging the notion that art is something apart from day-to-day living.”

Unlike the reproductions once lent by Addams to clients of the settlement house, these works will be original. Many of the artists have exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe, some at world-class venues like New York’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Tate Museum, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

The initial collection of 28 pieces was curated by Abigail Satinsky and Shannon Stratton, directors of threewalls gallery. They include sculpture, painting, collage, photography and other works on paper. Information on the art and artists will be available next week.

Radke said the tradition of art lending libraries continues not only at the museum, but in organizations such as the Tenderloin Art Lending Library in San Francisco and the Seattle Art Lending Library.

“For many participants, this will be the first piece of original art they have had an opportunity to live with,” Radke said.

The art lending library is part of the museum’s year-long focus on arts education in Chicago. In September, the museum opened “Unfinished Business: Arts Education,” a community-curated, participatory art exhibition that explores the importance of cultural rights in a democracy. The exhibition will be on view through December.

The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, part of the UIC College of Architecture and the Arts, is in the original headquarters of the Hull House settlement at 800 S. Halsted St. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For information, call (312) 413-5353.

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