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Press Release

Art Design Chicago Backgrounder

Chicago’s artists and designers shape the character and identity of the city and spark insights and innovations that have ripple effects across the country and globe.

Art Design Chicago is a citywide collaboration and series of events and exhibitions that highlight Chicago’s rich art and design legacy. An initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art in partnership with artists and arts organizations across the city, Art Design Chicago seeks to expand narratives of American art with an emphasis on the city of Chicago’s diverse and vibrant creative cultures and the stories they tell.

Chicago’s thriving art scene is a vital contributor to the city’s culture and to the global community of artists and designers. Art Design Chicago aims to strengthen connections between cultural organizations, creatives, and communities. The intent of the initiative is to not only tell the stories of Chicago’s creative communities past and present, but also deepen and sustain the city’s rich arts ecosystem.

Art Design Chicago prioritizes community engagement and inclusive project-development practices and places the voices and work of Chicago’s artists and designers front and center throughout the series. The initiative shares a new set of histories and narratives of Chicago art and design and presents art and exhibitions that have never or rarely been exhibited previously. Art Design Chicago features various forms of media including sculpture, photography, printmaking, ceramics, fiber arts, graphic design, commercial art, furniture, textiles, multimedia installations, video, and more.

Citywide collaboration

Art Design Chicago exhibitions and events take place in more than 30 Chicago neighborhoods and several suburban communities. More than 50 Chicago-area organizations are participating in Art Design Chicago and showcasing the work of hundreds of artists. Chicagoans can experience art and design in the communities where they live and work or explore the city by visiting exhibitions and events happening across Chicago’s neighbor- hoods. Visitors to the city have the opportunity to expand their understanding of Chicago through the lens of the artists and designers whose unique contributions shape the city.

Expanding narratives

Chicago’s artists and designers have and continue to make extraordinary contributions to art and design, broadening narratives about American art and civic life. Art Design Chicago supports new research that offers nuanced understandings of the city, featuring the work of creatives that exemplify the richness and complexity of Chicago’s artistic practices.

Building connections

Art Design Chicago also prioritizes building connections. The initiative has intentionally built a network of partners that range widely in mission, scale, and location to reflect the diversity, scope, and experiences of Chicago’s creative communities and arts scene. The initiative supports projects that test new ways of building and deepening relationships and partnerships between cultural organizations, individuals, and community members.

Relationship building between organizations is facilitated through the Art Design Chicago Partner Network, which brings the grantee organizations together to discuss opportunities for partnership around public programming, communications, and engagement. These sessions are a forum to share ideas and best practices, consider strategies for alignment, and discuss possibilities for collaboration across institutions.

In addition, many Art Design Chicago partner organizations have participated in a learning community, coordinated by the Terra Foundation for American Art, and have been meeting since 2021 to exchange ideas, collaborate, and solve problems around effective community engagement, with the goal of making access to and engagement with the arts in Chicago more equitable and inclusive. Art Design Chicago partners’ community engagement strategies have taken different forms, according to each organization’s goals. Some examples of their engagement activities include establishing event series in collaboration with community stakeholders, piloting community-advisory councils, working with community-engagement fellows, and hosting participatory research events.

Fast facts

  • 35+ exhibitions and hundreds of public programs
  • Showcases visual art and design and spotlights Chicago’s unique artistic heritage and creative communities
  • Runs through 2025
  • Exhibitions and events in more than 30 Chicago neighborhoods and several suburban communities
  • 50+ participating organizations
  • Initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art
  • More information at



American Indian Center

Art Institute of Chicago

Arts and Public Life

Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture

The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

Center for Native Futures

Chicago Architecture Center

Chicago Art Department

Chicago Collections Consortium

Chicago History Museum

Chicago Humanities

Chicago Public Library

Chicago Public Library Foundation

Conduit: Black Arts Preservation Project

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

DePaul Art Museum

Design Museum of Chicago

Elmhurst Art Museum

FACE Foundation

Floating Museum

Folded Map

Gallery 400, University of Illinois Chicago

Green Lantern Press

Hyde Park Art Center

Illinois Humanities

Independent Curators International

Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN)

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago

Museum of Vernacular Arts and Knowledge

National Museum of Mexican Art

National Public Housing Museum

Newberry Library


Public Media Institute

Puerto Rican Arts Alliance

Rebuild Foundation

Red Line Service

Sixty Inches from Center

Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago

South Asia Institute

South Side Community Art Center


Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art