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We're endlessly inspired by the life of leadership lived by Chicago trailblazer Jane Addams, who had the right idea when she founded her Hull-House settlement in the late 1800s. Not only did she make art classes available to children and adults, but she also organized an art lending library so that newly minted Chicagoans could hang a piece of city culture on their own walls.
Recently revived via the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the free art lending library is once again up and running. And unlike the reproductions lent in Addams’s heyday, we get to take home original contemporary pieces by established artists.
Curated by Abigail Satinsky and Shannon Stratton, directors of the West Loop's prolific Threewalls gallery, the lendable collection is 28 works strong and includes painting, sculpture, collage, photography and works on paper. Go to the museum and sign up at no cost; the artwork you pick (lent for up to three months) will be professionally installed by the volunteer-run Hull-House Mobile Art Corps.
Tied to the lending launch is the museum’s current exhibit, “Unfinished Business: Arts Education,” which explores the importance of cultural rights in a democracy. It’s on view through December--by which time you may very well be enjoying your third art loan.
That’s what we call art smarts.
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St.; 312-413-5353 or uic.edu/jaddams/hull/
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