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Chicago Athenaeum Museum Archive

Since the Museum's founding, The Chicago Athenaeum has built an outstanding permanent collection of architecture and architectural artifacts and objects of important American, European, and local Chicago industrial design.

Industrial Design
The Chicago Athenaeum maintains a vast collection of significant examples of industrial design by the world's most prominent architects and designers in the 20th and 21st Centuries. One of its most important collections are objects designed and made in Chicago from 1900-1960 when the City of Chicago was the center of design and manufacturing in the United States. That collection includes many pioneering examples of modern technology from cameras, radios, and televisions to home appliances, business equipment, and graphics.

Early Women in Design: Anne Swainson and Ellen Manderfield
This collection contains drawings, photographs, product designs by two important early American industrial designers working in Chicago from 1930-1960. Ann Swainson, born in Sweden, founded Montgomery Ward Bureau of Design in Chicago in 1930--the first Corporate Industrial Design Department in modern history. She employed hundreds of architects and designers to design everything the mass retailer Montgomery Ward sold from 1930-1955. She revolutionized the modern catalogue with consistent graphics and introduced the concept of models interacting with appliances and wearing lingerie. She educated and trained hundreds of designers who later became famous in their own right during the 1950s and 1960s and who worked for Sears Roebuck and Company. One of her most famous employees was Ellen Manderfield who had a brilliant career in housewares up until the 1980s. This archive contains many interesting examples of early renderings by Manderfield for streamline radios and televisions.
woman early design    
                            Ann Swainson                                                           Ellen Manderfield

History of Modern Graphic Design

This archives contains original examples of early modern graphic design from 1930 to 1960, including corporate logos, typography, logo types, books, handbooks, brochures, posters, print and promotional materials, and advertising.

GOOD DESIGN 1950-Present
This program, founded in 1950 by Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and MoMA curator Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., continues today as one of The Chicago Athenaeum's most important public programs. The collection contains early chairs by Herman Miller and Steelcase, as well as radios, computers, business and medical equipment, televisions, furnishings, housewares, appliances, cars, lighting, motorcycles, and NASA space ships.

nstallation of Good Design at MoMA, 1951
From the Archives of The Chicago Athenaeum

Photographic Archives 
This collection contains portrait photographs of architects and industrial designers as well as buildings from their period and buildings that no longer exist from Louis H. Sullivan to Mies van der Rohe.

Architecture Collection
Models, drawings, building fragments, renderings, furniture, and decorative arts of famous Chicago and international architects from the First Chicago School of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright to contemporary Italian architect Alessandro Mendini.
The Chicago Athenaeum | 601 South Prospect Street
Galena, Illinois 61036, USA | Tel: 815/777-4444 | Fax: 815/777-2471