The Decorative Arts and Architecture of Chicago



April 16-19, 2015

Chicago houses a collection of museums and architectural sites that rivals the cultural meccas of the United States and Europe. This symposium features a broad swath of noteworthy destinations, some mainstream and others off the beaten path, to introduce Trust members to the breadth of the city’s attractions. Our visit is timed to coincide with Christopher Monkhouse’s landmark exhibition Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840 at the Art Institute of Chicago. From the carved furniture of Georgian Dublin to the skyscrapers of 20th-century Chicago, our spring 2015 symposium includes something for everyone!


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

  • Registration begins, Westin Michigan Avenue
  • Our opening reception takes place at the renowned Fortnightly. This private club is located a short walk from the hotel and housed in the Georgian Revival Helen and Bryan Lathrop House (1892), designed by Charles Follen McKim of the renowned New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. The building has been beautifully restored and is worthy of a tour while we enjoy our kick-off event.
  • Opening remarks and keynote address, The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
    Georgian Ireland: International Crossroads of Art and Design
    Christopher Monkhouse, Chair and Eloise W. Martin, Curator, European Decorative Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago

Friday, April 17

  • Depart Westin Michigan Avenue by coach
  • We are privileged to have an early entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago for a journey through the exhibition Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840with Christopher Monkhouse and his colleagues from the department of European Decorative Arts.Our visit to the AIC continues with private tours of the heralded American fine and decorative art collections led by members of the curatorial staff. Highlights will include American paintings, decorative arts, and folk art.
  • The University Club (1907-09) beckons us across Michigan Avenue for lunch. The club is a historic landmark in the Gothic Revival style designed by Martin Roche, an important member of the Chicago School of architecture. Our repast is to be followed by lectures regarding highlights of the AIC collection from three curators.
    • Made in Chicago: From the Prairie Style to Modernism
      Monica Obniski,
      Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts, American Art
    • Soup to Nuts: The Culture of Food in Nineteenth-Century American Paintings at the AIC
      Annelise K. Madsen, Ph.D.,
      Assistant Curator of American Art, AIC
    • The John A. H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
      The Noble Splendor of the Armería de Dos Aquas: A Spanish Renaissance Armory at the Art Institute of Chicago
      Jonathan Tavares,
      Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation Curatorial Fellow, Medieval to Modern European Painting & Sculpture
  • Return by coach to Westin Michigan Avenue. Dinner on own.

Saturday, April 18

  • Depart Westin Michigan Avenue by coach
  • For the morning session we will have the pleasure of private tours to three noteworthy sites in the city’s historic Prairie Avenue district.
    • The Greek Revival Henry B. Clarke House (1836) is the oldest surviving dwelling in Chicago and a testament to the city’s now-lost architectural ambitions in the first half of the 19th century. The Clarke House’s furnishings are owned and maintained by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois.
    • When the great Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson was hired to build the John J. Glessner House(1885-87) in a Romanesque revival style, he caused quite a stir. A radical departure from traditional Victorian taste, the structure served as an inspiration to the young Frank Lloyd Wright and helped redefine domestic architecture. The Glessners also acquired a remarkable collection of decorative arts that remains in situ and speaks to the beauty and grace of the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts Movements.
    • Second Presbyterian Church (1871-74) is James Renwick Jr.’s most significant Midwestern commission and exemplifies his development of the ornamental possibilities of the Gothic Revival style. Second Presbyterian also has the best-preserved ecclesiastical Arts and Crafts interior in the nation. In addition to the original light fixtures and Frederic Clay Bartlett murals, memorial windows made by William Morris & Company and Tiffany Studios enhance the Church’s spectacular interior.
  • We head north from the South Loop by coach for lunch at The Casino, the first social club in the United States organized for both men and women. After our meal, we will enjoy a trio of lectures and the opportunity to tour the beautifully preserved interiors of the second Casino clubhouse (1928).
    • Isaac E. Scott, Designer of Furnishings and Interiors at Glessner House
      William H. Tyre, Executive Director and Curator, Glessner House
    • Beyond Glessner House: H. H. Richardson and his Chicago Legacy
      John H. Waters, AIA, Architect and Historian, Research for Restoration
    • Hidden in Plain Sight: Rue Winterbotham Carpenter’s Interiors at The Casino
      Bart Swindall, Historian, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
  • Return to Westin Michigan Avenue by foot
  • Decorative Arts Trust Fundraiser for the Education Fund at the apartment of Trust member Mr. Robert Marks.

Sunday, April 19

  • Gather in the Westin Michigan Avenue’s Great Lakes Room
    • Making History at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893
      Diane Dillon, Interim Vice President for Research and Academic Programs, Newberry Library
    • Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851-1939
      Jason T. Busch, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Museum Programs, Saint Louis Art Museum
    • Closing Remarks
      Matthew A. Thurlow, Executive Director, The Decorative Arts Trust
  • Symposium concludes.


Thursday Optional Tour: Private Collections on the North Shore

Thursday, April 16

8:00am – 5:00pm

Depart Westin Michigan Avenue

Our Thursday outing will begin in Lake Bluff, where we will have the privilege of an extensive visit to the heralded collection at Crab Tree Farm. The 270-acre property overlooking Lake Michigan began as a model dairy in 1911 and includes David Adler’s Port of Call, a house built for William McCormick Blair (1926-28) that testifies to Adler’s tremendous skill with colonial revival design. The house contains a renowned collection of English antiques and portraits, and the extensive series of outbuildings, workspaces, and follies at Crab Tree Farm provides enough fodder for a week’s exploration. Within the former farm complex, we will encounter a remarkable series of period rooms furnished with an outstanding collection of English and American Arts and Crafts objects. We will be hard pressed to tear ourselves away from this extraordinary site.

Following lunch on the grounds of Crab Tree Farm we will head south to tony Lake Forest to tour two private collections of American decorative arts. Chicago’s Field family has served as major philanthropists and cultural dignitaries for generations, and the current scion has graciously invited us to visit his collection of 18th-century American furniture, 19th-century American paintings, and English ceramics set in a house designed in 1908 by David Adler’s first employer, Howard Van Doren Shaw, for Prentiss and Mary Coonley with landscape designs by Jens Jensen.

We will also visit the house of Mr. Field’s daughter and son-in-law, who are proving the maxim that the apple does not fall far from the tree. They are young connoisseurs intent on building a top-flight collection of American fine and decorative art. Like Mr. Field, they are focusing on 18th-century American furniture as well as paintings, textiles, and folk art for a Georgian Revival house with interior designs by Trust Vice President Ralph Harvard.

Sunday Optional Tour: Chicago’s Gold Coast

After enjoying lunch in the Westin Michigan Avenue’s acclaimed restaurant, The Grill on the Alley, we will depart for tours of two private collections in Chicago’s Gold Coast historic district. Our first stop will be at an extensive collection of 18th and 19th-century folk art and furniture from New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Built through 40 years of collecting, our hosts have focused on hooked rugs, painted furniture, weather vanes, and American and English glass, all housed in a vintage Chicago apartment building.

We will continue on to visit a private collection focused on Irish decorative arts developed by a lender to the Art Institute’s exhibition, Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840. The collection is housed in an impressive Gold Coast dwelling, and we will have plenty to enjoy in spite of the exhibition loans.

Our day concludes with a private, after-hours tour and reception at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, located in the spectacular Gilded Age Samuel M. Nickerson House (1879). Chicago businessman and philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus commissioned a five-year restoration effort to preserve this structure and its magnificent interiors.

Today the galleries feature original furnishings paired with elegant, historically-appropriate pieces, including important works by such celebrated designers as the Herter Brothers and Louis Comfort Tiffany. We will also have the opportunity to tour the museum’s special loan exhibition, Maker and Muse: Women and Early-20th-Century Art Jewelry, a show drawn from local private collections while enjoying refreshments amidst the splendor of this remarkable site.


Decorative Arts Trust Fundraiser for the Education Fund at the apartment of Trust member Mr. Robert Marks

For those members who wish to support the Trust’s Education Fund and tour an exceptional collection of Asian decorative and fine arts, Trust member Robert Marks has graciously agreed to open his apartment on the 58th floor of the John Hancock Center for a reception and visit. Robert, President Emeritus of Chicago’s Harrington College of Design, began collecting in the 1950s. Lacquer boxes, Imari porcelain, Chinese architectural elements, and illuminated Sanskrit scrolls are accented by contemporary furniture and flourishes. Whether or not you collect or are familiar with Asian decorative arts, Mr. Marks’ extraordinary holdings will leave you with an indelible appreciation for the craftsmanship of master artisans in China, Japan, and India. The Hancock Center is a draw in itself and a remarkable Modernist testament worthy of admiration, and the view of Lake Michigan from the 58th floor is not to be missed!

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast Mr. Marks’ hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage to the next generation of curators and academics through a robust system of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2015 more than a dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s laudable emerging scholars program.

Attendance is limited to 40 participants and requires a $250 tax-deductible contribution to the Trust’s Education Fund.

  • The Westin Michigan AvenueSpecial Room Rates: $185 Single or double; The Trust has reserved rooms from April 15-20. These rooms will be held by the hotel until March 16. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling 888.627.8385 and referencing “Spring Symposium.”
  • Chicago is serviced by two major airports: Midway (MDW) and O’Hare (ORD). Taxis and private transportation can easily be arranged from both airports to the Westin Michigan Avenue. Midway and O’Hare are also accessible by public transportation through the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train system.
Terms and Conditions

Land Arrangement Cost:
$5,975 per person, based on double occupancy for 9 nights, for the main tour. Please note that this excursion is one day longer than the Trust’s typical Study Trip Abroad.

$2,075 per person, based on double occupancy for 3 nights, for the optional extension to Gdansk.

Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation from the Trust.

A deposit of $1,400 per person is required by September 1, 2015. An additional deposit of $600 per person is required for the optional extension to Gdansk. Reservations and deposits are taken on an “as received” basis. You will receive a written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust. Do not make any irrevocable airline reservations until you receive your verification. Please make your check payable to “The Decorative Arts Trust” and mail to: 20 South Olive Street, Suite 304, Media, PA 19063.

Single Supplement:
The single supplement is $1,050 for the main tour and $200 for the extension, to be paid along with the deposit.

Final Payment:
Is due by January 31, 2016. Invoices for final payment will be mailed in early January.

A Benefactor-level membership is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is fully tax deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted for at this time but subject to change as necessary. A Study Trip Abroad reading list will be sent to you.

The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The optional extension to Gdansk requires a minimum of 10 participants. The trip and/or extension will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. We will organize and maintain a waiting list on the basis of the time registrations are received. This is a strenuous trip. We regret that we cannot be responsible for those needing assistance on this trip. By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other passengers. The Trust reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant in this Study Trip Abroad should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the Study Trip Abroad or the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others. A valid United States passport is required for this itinerary.

Included in Trip Cost:
Hotel accommodations in 4–5 star hotels, 8 buffet breakfasts, 7 lunches, 3 dinners, 1 reception, private coach transportation, local guides, admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers, and porterage for one suitcase only. The extension to Gdansk includes 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners.

Not Included in the Trip Cost:
Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refund:
If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Decorative Arts Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $250 administrative fee. Deposits are non-refundable after September 1, 2015.

  • Cancellations arriving by February 26, 2015, will receive a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations arriving by April 8, 2016, will receive a 25% refund.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations received after April 8, 2016.

Travel insurance is strongly recommended to protect against cancellations. 


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

Thank you for subscribing!


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

You have Successfully Subscribed!