Exploring the art, architecture, and design of the late 19th century to the present
The Richard H. Driehaus Museum is a museum located at 40 East Erie Street on the Near North Side in Chicago, Illinois, near the Magnificent Mile. The museum is housed within the historic Samuel M. Nickerson House, the 1883 residence of a wealthy Chicago banker. Although the mansion has been restored, the Driehaus Museum does not re-create the Nickerson period but rather broadly interprets and displays the prevailing design, architecture, and decorating tastes of Gilded Age America and the art nouveau era in permanent and special exhibitions.
The interiors are replete with marble, onyx, carved exotic and domestic woods, glazed tiles, and stained glass. On display are original furnishings from the Nickerson era along with American and European decorative arts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including art nouveau furnishings and a number of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The museum is named after its founder, the Chicago businessman, philanthropist, and art collector Richard H. Driehaus. The artworks on display in the museum are selections from the private Driehaus Collection of Fine and Decorative Arts.
The Driehaus Collection is one of the significant collections in the country of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his associated firms. Richard H. Driehaus acquired his first Tiffany work, a stained-glass window, in 1978, and in the years since his collection has grown to include over 1,500 objects, including Favrile glass, vases, furniture, accessories, and stained and leaded-glass windows.
Highlights of the Tiffany objects on permanent display in the Driehaus Museum include a set of brightly colored iridescent stemware; large fire screen with iridescent chain mail tiles; unique centerpiece lamp with a base of eight large nautilus shells; and green blown-glass humidor.
Among the museum's collection of furniture is a suite of carved neo-Empire maple chairs by George A. Schastey & Co. of New York, one of the original decorators of the Nickerson House; a rare Chickering and Sons grand piano from the Driehaus Collection; and a Nickerson-era Herter Brothers extension dining table of quarter-sawn white oak.
Other highlights include a brass chandelier from Thurlow Lodge with boars’ heads, hunting arrows, and hunting horns; Émile Gallé vases; Sèvres vases; gilt-bronze mantel clock by Deniére; paintings by members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; and a dramatic Venetian marble sculpture by Oscar Spalmach depicting the mythical figures of Cupid and Psyche.
The second floor of the Driehaus Museum, formerly the living quarters of the Nickerson family, is more sparsely decorated and is designated as exhibition space.
The third floor consists of a ballroom where most of the museum's public programs take place and a lounge where visitors can sit on an Art Nouveau furniture suite by Edward Colonna.
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